LatinoLA has been on the receiving end of a few emails describing the situation at Self Help Graphics since executive director Tomas Benitez announced his resignation. Recent LA Times and Tu Ciudad magazine articles reported on the problems, but a crisis seems to now be at hand.
In the past month or so, a group of artists sent an email talking about artists being more involved in the board of directors. The board responded with an agreement to have all interested parties involved. A job announcement for a new Executive Director was then sent around.
On 6.8.05, artist/photographer/writer Harry Gamboa Jr. sent an email which simply asks:
?East L.A.'s Self Help Graphics has been shuttered.
True or False??
It was shortly followed by a 6.11.05 message and image (detail pictured):
?Maybe the term "shuttered" is dwarfed by the stark image of a locked gated fence.
Several artists are now unable to retrieve their artworks.
Money is owed to an artist who was recently commissioned to produce a silk screen print.
Workers have turned in their keys.?
He got a response, received on 6.12.05, which he forwarded.
?Dear Harry, Art supporters and fellow Artists,
In response to Harry Gamboa's question, "what has happened and who is affected"??.........We recognize your concern for the events that have transpired at Self Help Graphics, and the Board and Staff share your concern as well.
The reason for the "lock" is that the Board has temporarily limited access to only essential Self Help staff in order to preserve financial resources to the organization. The staff is on a limited schedule right now and are volunteering additional hours where possible. Our Board, as always is completely an unpaid volunteer effort and continues to be commited to Self Help Graphics. As of June 8, the core Staff and Board has stepped up efforts to retain the outstanding grants due the organization as well as new funding opportunities close at hand.
Our hope is that these grants come through soon to extend the limited hours of our current schedule.
Effective June 7, the Board accepted the resignation submitted by Tomas Benitez, former Executive Director of Self Help. His resignation was originally submitted in December 2004, with his tenure to be complete in June 2005.
Given his departure, we felt it necessary to ensure that the building, print studio, artists prints and collection would remain as secure as possible given the broad status of key distribution over the years.
The gallery director, Christina Ochoa and myself have the keys to the center and arrangements can be made to pick up the portion of editions that are each artists share, if so requested.
If you have any questions, please feel free to direct them to me, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sincerely, Olivia Montes
Board President, Self Help Graphics"
On 6.13.05, the following was received by LatinoLA:
?Subject: Self Help ARTIST's MEETING JUNE 28
To: Community of Artists:
The Board and existing Staff are working extremely hard to open the doors at Self Help.
There are Artists on or Board and this affects them as well as many other Artists.
The Community who use our parking lot and Cultural groups who use the building for Events are affected as well.
But there are times when extreme measures must be taken for a number of reasons.
We would like to discuss this with you and fellow artists, and are proposing an Artist Meeting on:
TUESDAY, JUNE 28 at 7:00 PM
The location will be decided in the next few days.
Please spread the word on this meeting.
We welcome help from those who love Self Help as we do and hope to work together to open the doors and
move forward with new leadership.
Thanks, Self Help Board of Directors?
And today, 6.15.05:
?SELF HELP ARTIST & COMMUNITY MEETING
to discuss the state of the organization....and what we can all do to help
TUESDAY, JUNE 28 at 7:00 PM
AVE 50 STUDIO
131 N. AVE 50 (FIGUEROA)
LatinoLA's advice. Get involved. Attend this and other meetings. Call elected officials. Insure the survival and growth of Self Help Graphics and other independent Latino arts and cultural institutions.