As a girl in Southern California, I was fascinated by the discovery of the “lost cities” of the Americas -- of explorers hacking their way through dense jungle, only to happen upon long-obscured temples and artifacts that were then preserved for future generations.
Turns out the historic heart of L.A. has its own artifact, freshly conserved but still, well, a little hidden.
"América Tropical," the controversial mural created by Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1932, is truly viewable again for the first time in decades, thanks to the efforts of the city, art historians and the Getty Conservation Institute.
On a recent holiday weekend, the shoppers and diners crowding Olvera Street weren’t exactly lining up to see it, though. Partly that’s because, like the ancient temples, you almost stumble upon the subtly marked “ATIC” entrance at Sepulveda House; there are few signs of the artist’s name outside. You can’t beat the price, though: Admission is free.
The new América Tropical Interpretive Center -- ATIC -- offers excellent background on Siqueiros, his techniques and on the artwork “as a political statement on the time in which it was created” -- a few years into the Depression and during President Hoover’s Mexican repatriation program.