California artist Oree Originol had his “Chicano Awakening” when he moved from Los Angeles to Oakland in 2009.
The awakening came when he met some friends while working at a bookstore called Imix Bookstore in Eagle Rock.
“I wasn’t raised with any politics at home — I was raised more Catholic, for sure,” Originol said.
The 37-year-old artist began using his art as a medium of expression and a reclamation of Chicano culture.
The artist was inspired by the killings of Alex Nieto in San Francisco, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 98 other people killed by police to create the ‘Justice for Our Lives’ mural, a piece that shows the faces of those who died.
On April 2, Artes de la Rosa, Adam Werner, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art’s manager of community teaching programs, and Casa Azul Coffee collaborated to create a mural paying homage to Originol’s mural.
“Printing the Revolution wasn’t intended to be in a museum. It was for the community. So, that was kind of what we wanted to do,” Werner said. “We just look for ways that we can, kind of, complement one another’s programs.”
Werner focuses on creating connections between the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and local organizations and schools to provide resources and exposure to art.
“It’s just really amazing to be able to provide this for our students and our communities. That’s what’s so special about having these types of partnerships and collaborations,” Sara Herrera, the education director and dance instructor at Artes de la Rosa, said.
Artes de la Rosa and the museum collaborate frequently and hope to continue partnering with each other, Herrera said.
“I don’t know where I would be as an artist, if I had remained in L.A., because growing up in my neighborhood there was no real support, necessarily,” Originol said. “So, as an artist, it’s very important to have a community you can lean on to be able to collaborate, share your stories and to uplift each other.”
Originol grew up in a small home in Los Angeles with his parents. He slept on the couch from when he was 13 years old until he moved out at 23.
“I never had any space or privacy to really develop. Because you know, when you’re growing up as a youngster, it’s really important to be able to have your own space to do whatever you want and, for me, to do art,” he said. “That’s another reason why I was a bit of a late bloomer, creatively.”
The artist did street graffiti only for years because he was surrounded by that culture where he grew up in Atwater Village in the 90s.
He began getting involved in activism in 2014. He spent the following years working on his “Justice for Our Lives” project.
“After the killing of Mike Brown and the protests erupted in Ferguson, the whole country was just ignited during that time. And of course, during the pandemic, the killing of George Floyd,” Originol said. “It was those two moments — in 2014 and 2020 — that were the most pivotal moments, from when I started and ended the project, that really stood out to me.”
The mural at Casa Azul Coffee, 300 W. Central Ave., will be on display through May 8.
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.