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Sister Karen Boccalero &
Self Help Graphics & Art
History Project


c. 8,000 BCE
Chumash peoples arrive in what would become Los Angeles area.
c. 500 CE
Tongva peoples arrive in what would become Los Angeles area.
Aztecs build Tenochtitlan, their capitol city in what is today Mexico City.
Christopher Columbus arrives in West Indies.
Hernando Cortés and conquistadores arrive in Tenochtitlan; Montezuma II is the Emperor.
Aztecs surrender to conquistadores.
Spanish explorer Gaspar de Porola establishes initial Spanish settlement, along what would be called the Los Angeles River.
Father Juniper Serra opens the San Gabriel Mission.
Los Angeles founded, under the original name, El Pueblo Sobre el Rio de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula.
Mexican War of Independence begins.
Mexico gains independence from Spain.
Mexican-American War.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed, granting California to the U.S.
Census indicates more white Los Angeles residents than Hispanics or Native Americans.
Los Angeles mayor Cristobal Aguilar's term ends. 133 years will pass before the city elects another Latino to that office.
Evergreen Cemetery opens.
Mexican American populations move across the Los Angeles River, into what is today called unincorporated East Los Angeles County.
1900 - c. 1915
Eastern European Jewish immigration arrive in East Los Angles. Other ethnic immigrant groups during the century include Japanese, Molokans, and Serbians.
1910 - 1920
Mexican Revolution occurs.
1920s - 30s
Harlem Renaissance.
La Opinion, Los Angeles' – and the nation's – largest Spanish-language newspaper, launches.
Building constructed at 3802 Brooklyn Avenue that becomes Self Help Graphics headquarters from 1979-2011. (In 1994, the street name changes to Cesar E. Chavez Avenue.) Building at 3802 Brooklyn Avenue is home to CYO Hall – as in Catholic Youth Organization. Upstairs is a dancehall where weddings are held and bands play. Downstairs was a butcher's shop.
East Los Angeles is home to 90,000 people, including the most number of Mexicans anywhere in the world outside of Mexico.
David Alfaro Siqueiros arrives in Los Angeles; paints two murals while here. One ruined the other whitewashed – though recently restored.
Taller de Gráfica Popular political print workshop founded in Mexico City.
May 13, 1933
Carmen Rose Boccalero born in Globe, Arizona. She will become "Sister Karen" Boccalero.
Carlos Bueno born.
December 7, 1941
Pearl Harbor attacked.
June 3 - 9, 1943
Zoot Suit Riots occur.
Karen Boccalero moves from Globe, Arizona to East LA. She attends Immaculate Heart College and studies art under Sister Mary Corita Kent in the 1960s.
Bracero Program.
C. 1960
Pomona Freeway built through East Los Angeles.
Tamarind Lithography Workshop opens in Los Angeles; moves out of state in 1970.
U.S. involvement in Vietnam begins. 1964-1975 are considered Vietnam War years.
Cesar Chavez & Delores Huerta found the National Farm Workers Association, predecessor to the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Aztec eagle created as union logo.
November 22, 1963
John F. Kennedy killed.
1961 - 1962
Construction or additions to four major freeways make the East Los Angeles Interchange Complex said to be "the world's busiest freeway interchange." The freeways are Interstates 5 and 10, U.S. Highway 101, and California Highway 60.
April 10, 1962
Dodger Stadium opens in Chavez Ravine.
Edward Roybal elected to the U.S. House of Representative; he's the first Mexican American California has elected to Congress since 1879.
LACMA opens.
Luis Valdez puts on one-act satiric plays on United Farm Workers picket lines in Delano, California. Cesar Chavez gives approval. Max Benavidez says "most likely, Chicano art was born" with this presentation.
February 21, 1965
Malcolm X killed.
September 14, 1965
Second Vatican Council closes four years after convening; is considered socio-politically progressive.
1965 - 75
Chicano Civil Rights Movement occurs. Also known a Chicano Movement, El Movimiento, or Chicanismo.
Luis Valdez founds Teatro Campesino, the agitprop theater arm of the United Farm Workers. One source says this marks the birth of Chicano art.
April 4, 1968
Martin Luther King, Jr. killed.
In Chicago, police attack protestors on streets during Democratic National Convention. Eight individuals from different groups including Students for Democrat Society and the Black Panthers are tried with conspiracy to overthrow the government and although initially convicted, the convictions are overturned.
Gemini G.E.L. print shop / lab / gallery founded on Westside.
March, 1968
East L.A. Blowouts, where hundreds students walk out of fifteen or more eastside high schools as a protest against poor quality of education and facilities, and seeking more bilingual instruction and more Chicano teachers and administrators.
Robert F. Kennedy, running for President, meets with student leaders of the L.A. Blowouts.
June 5, 1968
Robert F. Kennedy killed at Ambassador Hotel.
October 17, 1968
Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos give black power salutes on medal stands during Olympic games held in Mexico City. They return home to death threats.
Cal State Los Angeles – located on the city's eastside – opens the world's first Chicano Studies department.
Goez Art Studio and Gallery opens in East Los Angeles, founded by José Luis Gonzalez.
Mechicano Art Center opens, co-founded by Victor Franco and Moira Bright. The Center is located on the Westside; Franco had previously been active in East Los Angeles editing a student newspaper, co-organizing student demonstrations, and trying to organize a pan-gang "La Junta."
April 1969
College students gather at UCSB to write El Plan de Santa Barbara, a manifesto for Chicano activists. The organization MECHa forms in its wake; the group advocates "liberation," "self-determination for our people" and Aztlan as pan-Chicano homeland.
Sister Karen Boccalero travels to Rome, Italy to attend the Tyler School of Art Abroad.
August 29, 1970
Chicano Moratorium occurs, or more formally, the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War. 30,000 people march in East Los Angeles.
August 29, 1970
Journalist Rubén Salazar killed at the Silver Dollar Café by a tear gas canister fired by a sheriff's deputy. Salazar had been investigating allegations of brutality by the sheriffs department.
Plaza de la Raza opens; provides youth arts education center in East L.A.
Cirrus print studio founded on Westside.
Sister Karen Boccalero graduates from Temple University with a Master's degree in Fine Arts.
Sister Karen Boccalero, Carlos Bueno and Antonio Ibañez start printing out of Sister Karen's garage, located near Eastman and Gage Streets.
SHG has its first exhibition at El Mercado at First Street in East LA. The original founders are Sister Karen Boccalero, Carlos Bueno & Antonio Ibanez
1972 - 1987
Harry Gamboa, Jr., Patsi Valadez, Gronk, and Willie Herrón's period of collaboration. They use the name, Asco – Spanish for 'nausea' beginning in 1974.
Self Help Graphics moves to 9,000 square-foot third-floor space at 2111 Brooklyn Avenue (later renamed Cesar E. Chavez Avenue), on corner of Soto Street. Self-Help Graphics officially opens. First programs at Self Help Graphics: batik and silk screening.
ASCO responds to a LACMA curator's contention that "Chicanos don't make art--they are gangers," by spray painting their names on the entrance to LACMA.
Artists use the Day of the Dead ceremony to highlight losses due to the Vietnam War at SHG. Los Four forms. Members are Frank Romero, Carlos Almaraz, Roberto de la Rocha, and Gilbert "Magu" LujAn. Later, Judithe Hernández added. Los Four & ASCO meet at SHG.
Self Help Graphics is incorporated.
Woman's Building opens in Lincoln Heights neighborhood; Feminist Studio Workshop art school opens there.
Willie Herron shows an "Exhibition of Our Worst Works." He records music at SHG & talks to Sister Karen about having “an alternative to the alternative space to promote Chicano groups from East LA.”
When SHG moves into the headquarters for the former Catholic Youth Authority, Sister Karen orders a giant Virgin Mary statue disposed of not wanting to alienate any artists, but the artists and surrounding neighbors reclaim it.
Judy Baca leads work on the Great Wall of Los Angeles, a mural that is more than 2,700 feet-long and located in the Tujunga Wash of the L.A. River.
Michael Amescua & Linda Vallejo start working at Self Help Graphics, including as staff of Barrio Mobile Art Studio a restored UPS truck outfitted with dark room and photography supplies, foldout silkscreening tables, sculpture-making supplies, and selection of Mezo-American books. The truck brings art instruction to students congregating in parks and in school parking lots..
SHG's institutionalizes the Day of the Dead. Asco disrupts Self Help Graphics Day of Dead procession with avant- garde performance, as opposed to more traditional leanings of first few years' processions.
April 30, 1975
Fall of Saigon, last U.S. helicopters depart Vietnam.
Mari Contreras starts working at Self Help Graphics.
SHG's Barrio Mobile Art Studio begins. It receives funding from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisers for one year.
Los Lobos del Este – soon known as Los Lobos – release first album, Si Se Puede!
Galeria Otra Vez opens at Self Help Graphics.
1977 - 79
El Teatro Campesino performs during Self Help Graphics De Los Muertos.
Self Help Graphics Día De Los Muertos includes a three-page handout with discussion of indigenous ceremonies.
SHG's Barrio Mobile Art Studio reaches 9,000 kids in East Los Angeles. The BMAS provides tutorials in printing, photography, sculpture & puppetry.
MOCA founded.
Mari Contreras starts being paid for working at Self Help Graphics.
Leo Limon starts working at Self Help Graphics as staff silkscreener for Mobile Art Studio. Limon has a studio downstairs at Self Help.
Eduardo Oropeza installs pieces of plates and other ceramics on exterior of Self Help Graphics building, and does the same for Virgen de Guadalupe statue in Self Help Graphics parking lot.
SHG moves to 3802 Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, on corner of Gage Avenue.
March 22,1980
The Vex punk music club opens at Self Help Graphics; Willie Herron is founder of club; his group, Los Illegals already had rehearsal studio downstairs.
Galeria Otra Vez is founded as part of SHG. The gallery is founded to provide artists the opportunity to exhibit in a professional setting. The gallery operates on a volunteer basis. Artists or curator(s) organized each exhibition. “Otra Vez” in Spanish means “once again or “another one referring to Self Help Graphic’s monthly exhibitions.
Gronk creates SHG's first series of prints known as the Special Projects to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Day of the Dead revival.
Consuelo Flores Self Help Graphics gallery co-director (with Marissa Ariel for some or of that time).
SHG's Mexican American Master Printer's Program becomes the Experimental Ateliers. It is a two year program intended to teach the art and craft of printmaking.
Sister Karen Boccalero makes, Withheld, her only known Atelier print at Self Help Graphics All text, it quotes Gandhi. The image is at a memorial service for Boccalero following her 1997 death.
Self Help Graphics gallery renamed New Directions. Name doesn't stick; reverts to Galeria Otra Vez.
November 30, 1985
SHG as a community art space that has also helped Chicano Artist rise in fame, but in recent years funding has been cut (1/3). Mentions Yreina Cervantez and Michael Amescua and Roberto Delgado: artists in residence, Ceciia Castenda Quintero ("turning point in life), Virginia Torres (job skills), Linda Vallejo and Matthew Thomas (cooperation, collaboration). How SHG provides skills building, artistic development, and outlet for expresssion.
Self Help Graphics archiving project with CEMA at UCSB begins.
Cheech and Chong's film, "Born in East L.A." is released. Cheech Marin is a leading collector of Chicano art.
N.W.A. releases gangsta rap classic album, "Straight Outta Compton."
Artist Arturo Urista became an artist in residence at SHG and helps to manage Galeria Otra Vez.
Exhibition, "Hispanic Art in the United States: Thirty Contemporary Painters & Sculptors" comes to LACMA in February. The show originated at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and traveled to Houston then Los Angeles. Gronk, Carlos Almaraz, Gilbert Lujan, John Valadez, Robert Gil de Montes, Frank Romero and Robert Graham all from L.A.
Tomas Bénitez begins working at Self Help Graphics. Barrio Mobile Arts Studio ends; had a $90,000 annual budget.
August 10, 1990
SHG exhibit includes Ester Hernandez (The cosmic cruise), Jean La Marr (Some Kind of Buckaroo) David Botella (Long Life to Creative Force) Vincent Bautista (Calaveras in Black Tie).
Jose "Joe" Apuche joins Self Help Graphics as master printer.
Artes de Mexico Festival held across Los Angeles; LACMA exhibits, "Mexico – Splendors of 30 Centuries." Self Help Graphics exhibits "Arts of Mexico: Its North American Variant."
Quincetennial of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the West Indies, in search of the Americas.
Laguna Art Museum purchases 170 Self Help Graphics prints by 90 artists.
Self Help Graphics does not allow painting, "Vade Retro" by Manuel Ocampo in the Christopher Columbus quincentennial exhibition, "Monster! Monster?"
Homeboy Industries opens in Boyle Heights. Eventually moving Downtown, Homeboy includes a bakery, commercial print shop, restaurant, counseling, and tattoo removal service run by Jesuit priest Father Gregory Boyle. Gang members and other at risk youth are employed here.
April 29 – May 3, 1992
Los Angeles Riots occur, following the acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King. Fifty people are killed, 4,000 injured, 12,000 arrested, and $1 billion is claimed in property damage.
Micheal Amescua, artists in residence, works with Edward Lira sculpting steel with 3 neighborhood boys: Ernesto Lopez (10), others unnamed: teaching/working program. Atelier Program is described as noncompetitive and cooperative. The art is diverse and wide ranging, not too pigeon hole what it means to do Chicano art.
Rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico.
March 31, 1994
Two-mile stretch of Brooklyn Avenue is renamed Cesar Chavez Avenue.
1994 - 95
Chicano Expressions exhibition funded and toured by United States Information Agency. Includes exhibitions of Self Help Graphics works in Johannesburg, South Africa, then to Spain, France, Germany, Mexico, and elsewhere.
Exhibition "Across The Street: Self-Help Graphics and Chicano Art in Los Angeles" at Laguna Art Museum.
Exhibition of Self Help Graphics prints at Armand Hammer Museum.
Día De Los Muertos celebration held in Glasgow, Scotland, thanks to Self Help Graphics.
June 25, 1997
Sister Karen Boccalero dies at the age of 64. "The artists and curators who worked with Boccalero remember her as a straight-talking chain-smoker whose often gruff manner concealed a deep generosity and concern for the people around her. "She was not your typical nun," said artist Frank Romero. "She was a very tough lady. She had to be. To her credit, she managed to keep Self-Help alive over these 20-some-odd years."She's the heart and soul of the place," Romero added. "We don't know what's going to happen without her."
November 2, 1997
Sister Karen Boccalero is remembered as someone who helped make Day of the Dead celebration an annual tradition in East LA for 35 years.
Tomas Benitez hired as Self Help Graphics executive director.
1997 - 2000
Galeria Sister Karen Boccalero open on Olvera Street, curated by Christina Ochoa and serves as an Self Help Graphics satellite.
'Maestras' – all-female Ateliers at Self Help Graphics.
1999 - 2005
Christina Ochoa works at Self Help Graphics as gallery director.
Yreina Cervantes is the first guest curator for SHG's Atelier program. Under her Maestras program, SHG has its first all woman show.
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center partners with Self Help Graphics.
2000 - 2005 Reina Prado works at Self Help Graphics.
2001 - 2003
Evonne Gallardo works as Self Help Graphics director of development. By 2002 Self Help Graphics budget is $708,000.
The LA Archdiocese opens the grand Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels opens downtown in order to replace St. Vibiana's Church which is damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The LAPD continue to use St. Vibiana's for their funerals--undermining the Archdiocese justification for spending millions of dollars on a new site.
Black Velvet Kruise exhibition at Self Help Graphics' Galeria Otra Vez.
2002 - 2004
Tax records for 2002-03 and 2003-04, contributions and grants fell from $708,000 to $347,000. Annenberg Foundation awards $125,000 to SHG to help with its financial difficulties.
June 7, 2005
SHG padlocks its doors after mounting bills, causing them to lose the Ford Foundation's Artography grant--not having the money to pay even for insurance. First-ever audit of Self Help Graphics shows $150,000 debt.
May 17, 2005
Antonio Villaraigosa elected; L.A.'s first Mexican American mayor since 1872.
September 2005
Self Help Graphics re-opens. Gabriel Tenorio replaces Tomas Benitez as executive director. Armando Durón named Self Help Graphics President of the Board. Gustavo LeClerk begins as Self Help Graphics artistic director.
2000 - 2007
Gustavo Leclerc, former artistic director says "there was no direction" & Tomas Benitez notes SHG is unable to retain collective spirit after Sister Karen's death.
June 23, 2007
SHG has an exhibit in memoriam of late Sister Karen Boccalero (10 year anniversary), curated by Christina Ochoa and Alex Alferov.
Self Help Graphics budget is $231,000.
March 15, 2008
Yolanda Gonzalez curates the "Maestra" all female show at SHG. SHG presents 2 plans for survival: becomes less dependent on grants; $231,000 from donations, rentals, and revenue. Also it plans to diversify: ie. Miguel Angel Reyes curates "Hombre LA" a show by 10 gay artists with Garciela Iturbide, Tony Gleaton as contributing artists.
LACMA has a show featuring many SHG alumni. With the opening of the Gold Line and future construction, and introduction of galleries and cafes along Mariachi Plaza and Soto St idea that East LA can be an arts and cultural corridor, A.R.T.E.S. Artists for revitalizing the eastside. Touches on the possibility of gentrification. UCLA professor Leo Estrada's graduate class in urban planning studied the area for its possibility as arts corridor.
July 2008
Armando Durón resigns as Self Help Graphics President of the Board.
July 3, 2008
Archdiocese tells Self Help Graphics that the Self Help Graphics building has been sold to Piedmont Investment Company. Self Help Graphics leadership and local politicians are among those outraged. Sale price is rumored to be $700,000 – previous appraisals were at $1.5 million and $1 million. Self Help Graphics has $116,000 in bank and $60,000 in receivables.
October 24, 2008
Los Angeles opening of Chora Prints 2008 New Political Posters From TJ2LA / Nuevos Posters Politicos de TJ a LA. This is a printmaking collaboration with Metabolic Studio / Annenberg Foundation and Casa del Tunel: Art Center in Tijuana.
June 1, 2009
Evonne Gallardo starts as Executive Director, Self Help Graphics.
Hard in Da Paint spoken word, free-style rap, and break dance happening begins Friday nights at Self Help Graphics.
Late 2008 / Early 2009
Stephen Saiz named Self Help Graphics President of the Board.
July 3, 2008
Archdiocese tells Self Help Graphics that the Self Help Graphics building has been sold to Piedmont Investment Company. Self Help Graphics leadership and local politicians among those outraged. Sale price is rumored to be $700,000 – previous appraisals were at $1.5 million and $1 million.
October 24, 2008
Los Angeles opening of Chora Prints 2008 New Political Posters From TJ2LA / Nuevos Posters Politicos de TJ a LA. This is a printmaking collaboration with Metabolic Studio / Annenberg Foundation and Casa del Tunel: Art Center in Tijuana.
Hard in Da Paint spoken word, free-style rap, and break dance happening begins Friday nights at Self Help Graphics.
June 1, 2009
Evonne Gallardo starts as Executive Director, Self Help Graphics.
November 15, 2009
Gold Line Eastside Extension opens, bringing light rail public transportation back to the East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, and connecting the area to other parts of L.A. and Pasadena.
California State Legislature passes AB 711, giving a $45,000 loan towards an economic feasibility study of whether East Los Angeles could become its own city.
December 2010
Self Help Graphics collaborates with Chinese-American Museum for exhibition, Dreams Deferred: Artists Respond to Immigration Reform.
April 2011
Self Help Graphics moves to at 1300 East First Street in Boyle Heights under the leadership of Executive Director Evonne Gallardo, Master Printer Jose Alpuche and Program Manager Joel Garcia.