Last month, we remembered what it means to work, and we honored our mothers. Some of us are still fortunate enough to have them in our lives. Some of us keep them in our hearts because they are no longer with us. A close friend recently attended a funeral for the mother of a fifth-grade girl, who spoke with poise when she said that her only regret was that she had not had more time with her mom. While it is an incredibly heartbreaking story, it reminds us that our mothers are to be cherished as sacred angels as who bring beauty and love, unconditionally.

And whether we mourn or celebrate our mothers, it is important to remember that among us are those who have grown up with two moms or two dads, with grandparents or adoptive parents. In each case, it is the loving and nurturing spirit transferred to our children that that allows them to forge forward and pursue their dreams. What matters most is that they are wanted and loved. In that vein, we offer a tribute to Sal Castro, who—as an educator—dedicated his life to nurturing, educating and empowering Chicano and Latino students across Los Angeles. His passing marks the end of an era, and it is only fitting that his legacy live on in these pages as well as in the thousands of young people whose lives he touched with his indomitable spirit. The movimiento owes him a debt of gratitude. And the fact that at least three of the candidates in current City council run-off elections are Latino is an undeniable reflection of Castro's legacy. From the barrios to the board rooms and even in the hallowed corridors of City Hall, Sal Castro was adamant in his belief that our youth had a right to be important decision makers in all of those places.

On the art front, congratulations are in order for Fernando Barragán, our modern-day Chicano cubist, a barrio Picasso, who recently had a solo exhibition at Fremont Gallery.  It was long over-due. Barragán has quietly and humbly created a body of work that includes canvas paintings, murals, pyrography and mixed media. Unassuming and quiet, he interprets life on the streets and finds a sharp-edged, ethereal beauty among the diverse denizens of an East Side that vibrates and glows with a taut, tense and raw energy. For us, he has always been an unsung hero, a gentle giant who works like a beast to help and take care of so many, including the editor of this small art/community gazette.

Further kudos go out to East LA Community Corporation for the second successful Taste of Boyle Heights, an annual celebration of culinary and cultural excellence in the community. The staff at ELACC worked hard at  for months on an event that promised to delight and entertain even as it recognized leaders at the forefront of efforts to provide dignified, affordable housing and improved quality of life for East Side residents. Special props go out to Miriam Peniche, a long-time Casa 0101 stalwart who  served as MC. It fell on her to introduce one of our favorite musical groups, the infinitely danceable Buyepongo.

We can also be proud that muralist Judy Baca, founder of Social & Pubic Art Recourse Center (SPARC) was once again acknowledged by the National Endowment for the Arts, which saw fit to recognize her important pioneering work as a pioneering community muralist and the force behind the Great Wall of Los Angeles, with a grant to continue restoration of that record breaking mural project in the Tujanga Pass, which remains, to this day, the world's longest—and grandest, we might add—mural project. Durfee Foundation Fellow Debra Padilla has been holding it down alongside Baca for more than two decades, and we congratulate them on their award from the NEA. It is well deserved.

That commitment to creating cross-cultural bridges upon which Baca based her depiction of LA history on the walls of the Tujanga wash, was echoed at official City of LA ceremony held to launch Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Honorees included LA Conservation Corps Executive Director Bruce Saito, who was proud to reveal that his paternal grandmother grew up in Boyle Heights, and Iron Chef Jet Tila, who reminded everyone that LA is a city with a rich, international culinary history and, as such, can go toe-to-toe with any big city on the East Coast. Strategy Workshop media and community relations person par excellence Leslie Song Winner was our lifeline for sometime, and we thank her for her significant influence, mentorship and outreach as well as her invitation to events such as these.

Lastly, we can thank District 14 Council Member José Huizar for coming down to meet the Wyvernwood activists who marched on May Day to City Hall from Boyle Heigts to rally in favor of community preservation, labor rights and immigration reform. Hundreds—led by El  Comité de la Esperanza with support from community-based organizations such as ELACC, Corazón del Pueblo, Ovarian Psycho-Cycles, Radio Sombra, Merkado Negro, Caminarte and others—walked four miles to underscore the need for preservation as opposed to demolition. His opposition to the re-development project as it currently stands has helped galvanize a community. We send him a heartfelt saludo de aprecio.  

Abel Salas can be reached at


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