Photo by Keith May Vasquez, in front of his "controversial" mural, in 2009
Emigidio Vasquez, a legendary Chicano artist most famous for his epic murals that continue to dot Orange County, passed away yesterday after a long illness. He was 74.
Born in the mining town of Jerome, Arizona, Vasquez moved to Orange's Cypress Street barrio in the 1940s and eventually gravitated toward painting. In his heyday, he achieved the almost-impossible: mainstream, underground AND governmental success, as his works became famous nationwide among art lovers and lionized among Chicano activists. He even scored contracts to do public murals for the county of Orange (the sprawling epic of OC history off the old OCTA bus terminal near the Civic Center in SanTana) and the city of Anaheim (in a mural located in the lobby of Anaheim City Hall) during the 1980s.
Unfortunately, Orange County is an ingrate, and Vasquez and his supporters spent the last years of his life trying to preserve his work from being destroyed by the elements, indifference, and law enforcement.More »