Seen Around the Valley
Backyard Art in the SGV
South El Monte, CA — It carefully hangs from the barbed ends of a chain link fence, the neighbor’s red wooden fence serving as its foreground. The admission price is free, but you have to walk under the green lime tree and through the clothesline to get to it.
It is an unlikely place to find art, which seems fitting for its equally odd trajectory. It was originally bought at a local swap meet or tianguis in Oaxaca, Mexico. After years of wearing it around the SGV and greater Los Angeles, it’s owner, a South El Monte resident, accidently forgot it in the trunk of her car. The t-shirt became the victim of a leaky bottle of car oil and was eventually thrown in the family garage, as if banished to the future life of a rag cloth; to be used for cleaning bathrooms, washing cars, or kitchen tables. Noticing la Virgen, her father saved it from its likely doom, carefully hanging it in their backyard. And there it lies, an old t-shirt, that became part backyard art, part altar to la Virgen de Guadalupe, one of the most important cultural and religious icons in Mexican communities such as South El Monte and El Monte.
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