photo:Rick MyerChanging Identity
Frank Romero grew up in the culturally mixed, middle-class Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights and was well into his career by the time he developed a consciousness of being a Latino artist. During the height of the Chicano civil rights movement in the early 1970s, as a member of the Chicano artists' group "Los Four," he attained a new, high-profile status in the larger art community.
It was not until the mid-1980s, however, that Romero could give visual form to some of the emotionally charged political events he had witnessed. These three canvases are among Frank Romero's most impressive accomplishments. He completed two of the paintings, The Closing of Whittier Boulevard and The Death of Ruben Salazar by 1986; another decade was needed to produce The Arrest of the Paleteros (ice cream vendors), which completes the trilogy he initially planned.
Romero's expertise as a painter of social themes is evident here. Although these pictures are associated with civil strife and political struggle, they are the exceptions for Romero, who generally prefers to focus on the joys and pleasures of life rather than its tragedies.