On Saturday, October 20th, The Social & Public Art Resource Center’s (SPARC) celebrated 35 years of Art, Education and Social Justice in LA with a celebration party featuring awards, a retrospective exhibition and jazz & blues legend Barbara Morrison at the SPARC building at 685 Venice Blvd. SPARC released a video of the anniversary party this week:
Honoree Information from SPARC:
The Siqueiros Award was given to muralist Francisco Letelier; as a Chilean exile he arrived to Los Angeles in 1985 carrying parts of a national culture that had been silenced by a military dictatorship. Letelier creates art that crosses disciplines and cultures while building connections between nations and individuals. Known for his words and his images, Letelier’s perceptive writing and spoken word unite with his legacy of creating powerful visual art. Based in Venice, the artist has created murals, public artworks and private commissions throughout the United States and Latin America as well as in Europe and India.
The SPARC Founders’ Award was given to key supporter of SPARC’s work Antonia Hernández, President and Chief Executive Officer of the California Community Foundation (CCF). Hernández is nationally recognized for a career spanning three decades in social action and the nonprofit sector, expertise in philanthropy and a lifelong devotion to underserved communities. Established in 1915, CCF is one of the largest and most active philanthropic organizations in Southern California, with assets of more than $1 billion. In partnership with its more than 1,200 individual, family and corporate donors, the foundation supports nonprofit organizations and public institutions with funds for health and human services, affordable housing, early childhood education, community arts and culture and other areas of need.
The Judy Baca Social Justice Award was given to key community leader Maria Elena Durazo on behalf of the workers of Los Angeles. Maria Elena Durazo is widely regarded as one of the most powerful and savvy union organizers in the United States. On May 15, 2006 she was elected to serve as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, an organization, which represents more than 800,000 workers through more than 300 separate unions. SPARC recently produced a digital mural “Gente del Maiz” for the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex named after her late husband.
Statement from Mary and Armando Durón on official renaming of the gallery to The Durón Gallery:
“Mary and I are deeply humbled by the naming of the art gallery at SPARC as The Durón Gallery. We cannot imagine a more cherished honor than having such a sacred space at SPARC named after our family. From a jail to an art gallery that has presented socially conscious art from all over the world, this space speaks to all who understand the true place of art in any society. Since first coming to SPARC in 1987, Judy and SPARC have held a special place in our restless hearts. We know that SPARC often stands alone among arts organizations, as it stays true to its original mission, without compromise or detours. Judy’s unique artistic vision founded on her social consciousness has been an inspiration to us and to our children, all of who deeply love SPARC and are equally proud to have their name forever associated with SPARC.”
Karina Perez, a former student at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex and currently a UCLA and DREAM ACT student states that her ambition and dedication to the arts was a powerful force in bringing her to UCLA, even when deeply rooted social and political challenges threatened to impinge upon her right to an education. “When I first met Judy I said, “Judy, I want to be a social justice artist”; little did I know that a few months later I would receive my acceptance letter from UCLA and get myself enrolled in Professor Baca’s class at the UCLA@SPARC Lab.” For SPARC, a celebration of 35 years is not simply a retrospective of the accomplishments of public art in Los Angeles but rather, it is a chance to consider the future of public art and recognize the promising generation of youth artists who will keep the voice of art and the voice of community alive.
SPARC was founded in 1976 by renowned muralist and Distinguished UCLA Professor Judith F. Baca, filmmaker/director Donna Deitch, and artist/teacher Christina Schlesinger. SPARC has been a catalyst for social change through the arts and a home for artistic innovation – creating public art as a vehicle to promote civic dialogue, foster cross-cultural understanding and address critical social issues. SPARC engaged 400 at risk youth in painting a 1⁄2-mile long mural (The Great Wall of Los Angeles) on the concrete wall of the Los Angeles flood control channel – a scar where the river once ran, built parks in debris filled land, hung photographic tapestries in senior centers, built sculptures for children to play on in vacant lots and produced hundreds of the most iconic murals of Los Angeles. Today SPARC has contemporized the historic mural processes through the incorporation of technology in the UCLA@SPARC Digital/Mural Lab.