Join us for our exhibition Opening Celebration of LA Plaza’s newest blockbuster exhibition, 18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium, on Sunday, August 20, 2023!
From boxing and wrestling to roller derby and music concerts, for nearly 80 years, this historic venue was a focal point for Mexican and Mexican-American culture in Los Angeles, serving as the home for visceral entertainment.
The Olympic’s ring was a platform for contenders throughout Southern California and Mexico, prompting fierce rivalries and inspiring intense bonds between athletes and fans. The action and atmosphere attracted movie stars, gangsters, artists, writers, and community
organizers, yet the most loyal fans were working-class Angelenos.
Gathered from multiple collections, this immersive exhibition features distinctive objects, relics, and images, such as embroidered boxing robes, hand-stitched lucha masks, race-worn roller skates, art, illustrations, photography, film, oral histories, boxing posters, wrestling programs, punk rock flyers and more, remembering its iconic characters from a disappearing world.
Through heroes and villains, these stories pay particular attention to the symbiotic, yet rivaling, multicultural relationships of Latin-American, African-American, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Jewish, and European communities. Battling for their place in the city, this venue connected to seminal events deeper than simple fandom and share what the battles on and off stage have taught us today.
Admission to the museum and the entire day’s activities are free of charge. Food and beverages will be available for sale. LA Tienda museum gift store will be open from 12 to 8pm, offering related merchandise.
12pm Museum open
1:30pm Panel discussion with LA Times columnist Gustavo Arellano, boxer Carlos Palomino, Mexican-American wrestler Mando Guerrero, skater Honey Sanchez, filmmaker Stephen DeBro, and Latino boxing historian Gene Aguilera
2:30pm Book and Blu-Ray signing
3:30pm Panel discussion: Women in Charge, inspired by Olympic manager Aileen Eaton, LA Plaza CEO Leticia Rhi Buckley leads a panel featuring powerful women who managed to thrive in male dominated fields
RESCHEDULED TO SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10! – KCRW Summer Nights featuring Afro/Latin Funk band Jungle Fire with KCRW DJ José Galvan, food, beer garden, silk-screen printing, vendors, and after-hours museum access until 8pm
Image: Bob Willoughby (1927-2009) Big Jay McNeely at the Olympic Auditorium 1951, Black and white photograph Courtesy of Bob Willoughby Estate, ©The Bob Willoughby Photo Archive. Used with permission, all rights reserved