Spirited by the goal of ensuring a long-term healthy future, Self Help Graphics & Art, one of the nation's leading Latino visual art organizations, will move to 1300 East 1st Street in Boyle Heights. After carefully considering many options and a commitment to serve the Eastside, Self Help found an ideal location in Boyle Heights to continue to advance Latino culture through art for another 40 years.
Three years ago, Self Help Graphics & Art's space was sold to a private developer by the Catholic Archdiocese. The high cost of rent at 3802 Cesar Chavez in addition to a reduction in the use of space created the need for Self Help to search for a new location. The search also included the serious exploration of purchasing the 3802 Cesar Chavez Avenue building. The move to the new location at 1300 1st Street comes with a substantial decrease in monthly rent.
"The opportunity to be a vital part of a new arts district, combined with our need to ensure a fiscally sound future for the organization, compelled us to make the decision to move," said Stephen Saiz, president of the board of directors for Self Help Graphics & Art. "Self Help is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and the City of Los Angeles to serve thousands of artists, youth, families, and community with quality arts programming."
The Boyle Heights community is undergoing an exciting resurgence. Revitalization of the area has accelerated with the Metro Rail Gold Line, the new LAPD Hollenbeck Station, the new Pueblo del Sol Community Center and the Boyle Heights Constituent Service Area to name a few major developments.
"I am thrilled that Self Help Graphics is making its new home in Boyle Heights," said Councilmember Jose Huizar. "Their reputation as one of the nation's premier art centers bodes well for this community and the burgeoning Boyle Heights Arts District. Working with Metro, I am bringing $11 million in streetscape improvements along First Street to support the Arts District, so the timing for Self Help Graphics could not be better. No doubt, they will be a major contributor to the arts movement currently underway in Boyle Heights."
A long-term city vision for the Boyle Heights community, a new arts district will run along a 1.5 mile stretch of 1st Street between Mission Road and Soto Street. As one of the longest running Latino art centers in Los Angeles, it is fitting that Self Help is one of the first stops over the First Street Bridge connecting the vibrant downtown art scene with the historic cultural art community in Boyle Heights.
"The Chicano Movement inspired a cultural renaissance that embraced the social justice issues of its time and communicated community pride through innovative artistic expressions," said Evonne Gallardo, Executive Director, Self Help Graphics & Art. "It seems fitting that Self Help is a part of a new wave of positive and creative neighborhood revitalization�we look forward to experiencing the ideas and art that our community will make together."
Sister Karen Boccalero founded Self Help in collaboration with a group of artists out of a garage, later taking art to the streets through the Barrio Mobile Art Studio, moving into an office in Boyle Heights before moving to Cesar Chavez and Gage through an arrangement with the Sisters of St. Francis and the Catholic Archdiocese. Years of free rent ended when the building was sold to private investors.
The iconic mosaic-tiled building at 3802 Cesar Chavez is an important part of local history. Before serving as Self Help's long-term home the facility was a Catholic Youth Organization in the 1940s as well as home of The Vex, the flashpoint of the growing Chicano punk scene in the 1980s. Self Help has supported the Los Angeles Conservancy's efforts to nominate the building for inclusion in the California Register of Historic Resources.
"Self Help Graphics & Art is a movement not a building," Gallardo said. "While we love and respect the heritage of the Cesar Chavez building, our move is inspired by a legacy of resiliency and independence that started with Sister Karen."
Incorporated in 1973, SHG is the leading non-profit visual arts center serving the predominantly Latino community of Los Angeles. SHG's mission is to develop and nurture Latino artists in printmaking. SHG seeks to advance Latino art broadly through programming, exhibitions and outreach to diverse audiences in East Los Angeles and beyond. SHG seeks to identify and engage young and emerging artists from the community in all aspects of its activities. Self-Help Graphics & Art endeavors to accomplish its mission through a focused set of totally free programming, which otherwise might not be available, including:
-Youth and Family Programs: serving local youth and families through the Community Art Workshops, S.O.Y (Summer of Youth) Artista Program, and the Digital Arts Network Program, a partnership program with Cal Arts.
-Printmaking Atelier: offering resources for artists to create and produce unique serigraphs. -Exhibition Print Program: bringing art exhibitions to local, regional, national and international audiences.
-Professional Artists Workshop Program: providing artists with the opportunity to develop professional experience while experimenting with a variety of techniques and print mediums.
Self Help showcases the talent of local artists through its annual Print Fair a widely renowned opportunity to view, support and purchase fine art from emerging and veteran artists. The organization is also known for its iconic Dia de los Muertos celebration, which draws thousands of attendees. Self Help has participated in the City of Los Angeles' Summer Night Lights gang reduction program which has been hailed as contributing to a decline in youth crime.
Self Help will officially move to the new space effective April 2, 2011 and plans to hold a series of community open houses.