Sunday, October 18, 2009


Liz Vega

Good Morning my fellow La Bloga readers. Here's hoping today turns out to be another glorious L.A. day like yesterday. Today I feel like making history and am just about to head out to the 25th annual Aids Walk Los Angeles. In honor and rememberance of all those whose lives have been touched and/or claimed by this epidemic, I want to share with you a very special place which I visited just yesterday, The Wall, Las Memorias Monument in Lincoln Park. If you have never been here it is so worth a visit. Many of us know that Lincoln Park is home to Plaza de La Raza but did you also know that it is also home to the nation's first ever publicly funded AIDS monument?
This beautfiful project is the result of many years of labor from even many more family, community, volunteers, civic leaders, corporations and state officials coming together. Raza uniting to make sure that "The Wall--Las Memorias will be an eternal monument to honor our loved ones who have died of AIDS." Those were the first words I encountered on a memorial plaque as I approached the steel panels and monument that commanded my attention all the way from the north entrance of the park.

I walked around looking at the six mural panels and taking pictures of the magnificent, colorful images they depict. There are two granite panels that hold the names of people who have died of AIDS. I ran my hands through the names. Even though it was around 2:00 pm the park was nearly empty. Perhaps it merely felt that way in that serene, garden setting. The panels are arranged as a serpent, Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec symbol from rebirth. There are benches set in the garden area that allow for personal meditation. The total area of the monument is 9,000 square feet. But sitting on a bench, right next to a what I think is a lavender bush (Im terrible with flora and fauna and I only think it is lavender because of the purple sprigs and smell), this space feels larger, much larger.
I think about a friend in 1981 who died when this epidemic was just starting to claim lives in the thousands and thousands, and the public was just becoming aware. I think of my cousin who died almost a decade later in 1990 in Mexico and how no one in our family still to this day acknowledges that it was AIDS that claimed his life. When my aunt, his mother, was still alive she said it was stomach cancer. One painting in particular reminds me of him. It's a mural that's split in two. A man pictured from the waist up, walking towards the viewer, the lights in the background, his naked torso drawing your toward him then on the right, the face, the eye that captures how lonely it must have been for my cousin living his life in the closet.
But don't think that being here is only a downer. Yes, you come away with images of how it affects everyone, the mother, the child, how it is a lucha and the struggle continues. This arduous struggle captured by what else but two blue luchadores in a ying yang postition. The one that's about to be thrown ready for anything. You can't help but crack a smile and be hopeful that one day soon it shall be defeated.
When I get home I google and learn that the Wall Las Memorias Project, that the AIDS Momument was designed by Robin Brailsford and the architect is David Angelo. The porcelain, enameled steel panels were designed by Yolanda Gonzalez and done by Wick Alexander.The mural artists are Alex Alverov, Paul Botello, Hugo Crotheswaite, Kathy Gonzalez, and Miguel Reyes. I couldn't find any of this information walking around the monument. Which added to the feeling that this is part of our collective experience, that we are all affected and working together gives us hope.

The AIDS monument is located at Lincoln Park, 3600 N. Mission Road, Los Angeles, CA 90031.
You can also go to to learn more about the work of this wonderful organization in our community.

We have a winner for the Hispanic Heritage Month Book Giveaway Contest we did on September 27th. The lucky person who sent in the correct answer to all five questions was Sandra Muñoz from East Los Angeles. The answers to the questions are in red:

1) Who translated into Spanish Junot Diaz's pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?Achy Obejas.
2) Which of these comics came first, La Cucaracha , Love and Rockets series, or Love and Rockets Volume 2? Love and Rockets
3) Name one text that the Department of Education in Puerto Rico has banned from the 11th grade public high school curriculum on the basis of "coarse and vulgar" language? Antologia Personal by Jose Luis Gutierrez
4) What is your full name? Sandra C. Muñoz
5) What is the address to which Hachette Book Group should send you the set of five books? Address somewhere in Alhambra, closer to Monterey Park.

Sandra should have received by now the set of five books sent by Hachette Book Group. The five books were:
Zumba® By Beto Perez , Maggie Greenwood-Robinson ISBN: 0446546127
Amigoland By Oscar Casares ISBN: 0316159697

1 comment:

Judith Mercado said...

Ephemeral memories recast in stone and color -- will they move us to action more than the lived experiences? Perhaps the serpent-like walls only keep us from complete forgetfulness. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.