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Arts and Entertainment

Two Highland Park Chicano Spaces Just Became LA Monuments

A photo of two buildings in side-by-side pictures. They're in Highland Park, the left building is a corner market, the right is a brown brick building along Figueroa Street.
The Mechicano Art Center, formerly in the building at N. Figueroa St, and Ave. 54 (left), and the Centro de Arte Público, once housed in the building on the right at Figueroa and Ave. 56, were both home to the neighborhood's Chicano Arts Collective.
(Courtesy of Jaime Tijerina)
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The city of Los Angeles has designated two sites in Highland Park as historic-cultural monuments for their artistic contributions to the Chicano movement in the 1970s.

The Centro de Arte Público and the Mechicano Art Center on N. Figueroa St. were home to the neighborhood's Chicano Arts Collective. The organization's output helped advance the political aims of L.A.’s Chicano movement.

Jamie Tijerina is president of the Highland Park Heritage Trust, which applied for the designations. She says both sites gave Chicano artists space to create art and publish their writing in an environment of discrimination and marginalization.

“Having space for the Chicano Arts Collective in general created a place where the artists could work together and create their art and get it out to the public and to the community,” she says.

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Gentrification and other changes in Highland Park have put these sites at risk of disappearing — along with the neighborhood's Latino history. Tijerina says the designations give groups tools to preserves these places.

We could have an opportunity to teach the new generations about it, by ensuring that the actual places were there to provide a real context and sense of place.

The Highland Park Heritage Trust is applying for another historic-cultural monument designation for Corazón Productions, a third site that was pivotal to the Chicano Arts Collective.

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