Art and revolution go hand in hand. A great example of this is David Siqueiros’ America Tropical. Siqueiros completed this mural in 1932, but because it was so controversial for its time it was, unfortunately, whitewashed shortly after. However, over time the mural was exposed and eventually people moved to restore it. I had come across Siqueiros’ work in several of my classes at Occidental College, but what surprised me about this particular piece is that its located in what’s now Olvera Street and has been opened to the public since October 2012.
It can be very easy to get caught up in our fast-paced lives and not appreciate the beauty that’s around us. I discovered this when I visited many places in Los Angeles while doing Oxy’s Alternative Spring Break. I’m from Houston, and even though I’m already a third-year at Occidental I found that there’s a lot of places in Los Angeles that I had yet to explore. Even more frustrating I found was that I had no idea how rich in history some places I had visited were. Take for example, La Plazita Olvera. I have been to the Plazita Olvera many times over my journey at Oxy, but I had no idea that it was home to Siqueiros’ mural.
Standing before America Tropical was a breathtaking experience. While it was sad to see how deteriorated the mural had gotten over the years it was also exciting to see that it was still there; hints of the vibrant colors that once made this mural still remained. Also, in the words of Ella Turrene, we were at the exact same location where Siqueiros’ painted his mural and the only time that separated us from him was time. All in all the Alternative Spring Break allowed me to explore and appreciate the historical richness of Los Angeles among other things.