So, I’ve traced the roots of community muralism back to William Walker and other African-American artists who created the Wall of Respect in 1967. And I found the work of John Pitman Weber, a white artist, who founded the multiracial Chicago Mural Group (CMG) with Walker in 1970. But I still want to know when and how Mexican American artists in Chicago fit into this early history.
Enter Ray Patlán.
In 1970, Pilsen residents founded the Casa Aztlán community center with Ray Patlán as the center’s first artist-in-residence. He created murals at the center and around Pilsen and was a very influential early member of the CMG. In 1971 he painted Reforma y Libertad/Reform and Liberty at Cullerton and Blue Island in Pilsen.
On the right side (above) we see Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla who kicked off the Mexican War of Independence with the Grito de Dolores in 1810. On the left we see Benito Juárez, the great Mexican reformer and 5 term president.
The mural also includes the Mexican flag and eagle, as well as symbols of ancient Mexico.
It seems to me that Patlán’s work links the community muralism in 1960s-1970s US and the Mexican muralism that preceded and informed it.
But can anybody tell me why this mural (painted in 1971, touched up in 1974, restored in 1985) looks so much more weathered than this one (painted in 1971 and never touched again)? I might need to learn something about technique and materials and weather.