IT’S BEEN MORE THAN 30 YEARS since the first efforts to revive América Tropical started. Since then, a lot has changed. The muralist movement in L.A. has fallen into decline, its goals fulfilled in some way by the growing political and cultural power of Mexican-Americans. Propagandist “political” art is hardly cutting edge anymore. New generations of visionary artists of color have rejected the ideologies of their forefathers, working from the idea that truly political art must also revolt against itself.
While their messages remain relevant in our dark times, murals like América Tropical and those made by the Chicano artists of generations past are more significant in that they speak of a particular period and a particular political moment, the awakening of consciousness in Los Angeles.
But, as Baca will readily remind you, history has a way of repeating itself. The Chicano muralists who found in América Tropical a beacon of their destiny have yet to collect their earned place in history. Their works have been neglected, destroyed and shunned by the L.A. art establishment. “The disrespect they showed to the maestro is the same disrespect they showed to us,” Baca says.