Marilee Karlsen, co-chair of the Silver Strand Art Group sent us the following report on a very exciting tour that members took on Saturday, Feb 22, 2013:
Eleven members of the Art Group joined others for a visit to “Bridging Homeboy Industries.” Homeboy Industries was founded by Father Greg Boyle,S.J. in 1992.
This very successful program assists those men and women who want to leave the life of gangs and drug addiction. It includes tattoo removal, drug rehabilitation, job skills and classes learning parenting skills, avoiding domestic violence, dealing with anger, art and preparing for productive employment in various fields. Many of the people in the program work at the Homeboy Industries bakery. You can purchase their goods at Ralphs Supermarkets and the Sunday Farmers Markets in Mar Vista and Santa Monica.
The event began at the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester where Curator Annie Buckley led us through paintings and sculpture by three artists from the Homeboy Industries program.We then traveled by bus to the Homeboy Industries facility in downtown Los Angeles and were met by the artists, Fabian Debora, Alex Kizu and Juan Carlos Munoz Fernandez whose work we had seen earlier at Otis.
During a delicious brunch at the Homegirl café, each of the artists recounted their journey from a difficult childhood surrounded by gangs and drug addiction to finding meaning in their life through art which paved their way to successful lives.
After touring the facility we again boarded the bus and viewed two murals painted by the three artists we met and met some of the others involved in the art projects. Anna Siqueiros, a friend of the artists, also met us there and spoke to us. She is an artist as well and grand-niece of David Alfaro Siqueiros, the famous Mexican muralist who worked in the social realist style. His only surviving public mural in the United States, America Tropical, can be seen at Sepulveda House at 125 Paseo de la Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. Completed in 1932, the mural was so deemed so controversial that officials covered with whitewash. It has been recently restored by the Getty Conservation Institute and is open to the public. Anna is the founder and Executive Director of the Siqueiros Foundation of the Arts.
It was a day of powerful and moving experiences. We not only enjoyed art, but expanded our knowledge of the valuable service provided by Homeboy Industries to those who need help in returning to productive lives.
For more information on Homeboy Industries, visit their website: http://www.homeboyindustries.org
The next Silver Strand Art tour will take place in April 2013. Details to be announced soon.
All photographs, other than the one of Anna Siqueiros above, are by Marilee Karlsen.