Art created in 1976 and 1977 at the Mechicano Art Center in Highland Park by (from left) Carlos Almaraz, Guillermo Bejarano and Judithe Hernandez | Photos from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, image courtesy of Highland Park Heritage Trust

City commission recognizes the Chicano heritage of Highland Park

2021 Arts & Culture Editions January

By Bill Hendrickson

Correction: This post was corrected on Jan 21 at 9 p.m. to reflect that the Cultural Heritage Commission has approved the application for Historic-Cultural status for the buildings that housed Mechicano Art Center and Centro de Arte Público. The application will now be heard by the Planning and Land Use committe of the L.A. City Council and, if approved, will be voted on by the L.A. City Council.

The Centro de Arte Público was located in this building on Figueroa Street between Avenues 56 and 57. | Photo courtesy of the Highland Park Heritage Trust
The Mechicano Art Center, as it looked in the 1970s, was located on Figueroa Street at Avenue 54. | Photo by Oscar Castillo/

The Cultural Heritage Commission of the City of Los Angeles voted unanimously on Jan. 21 to approve an application for Historic-Cultural monument status for the buildings in Highland Park that housed the Mechicano Art Center and the Centro de Arte Público, two art centers at the forefront of the Chicano Art Movement in the 1970s.

 The application for Historic-Cultural monument status will now come before the Planning and Land Use committe of the L.A City Council.

In advancing the application, the commissioners acknowledged that the artists who founded and worked at these art centers had expanded and translated the political, social and cultural messages of the Chicano Movement into the artistic realm. 

Among those artists are several who are now considered major talents of the 20th century and 21st century, including Carlos Almaraz, Guillermo Bejarano, Barbara Carrasco, Sonya Fe and Judithe Hernandez.

The Highland Park Heritage Trust is leading the drive to gain historic-cultural status for the buildings. Strong support for the effort has been provided by City Councilmember Gil Cedillo of Council District 1, the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and Avenue 50 Studio, among other organizations and individuals.

Related coverage: Speaking up for Highland Park’s Chicano heritage, Jan. 19, 2021 

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