Orange County’s suburban sprawl doesn’t lend itself to leisurely viewing of street art. But now there’s an app that makes it easy to take a self-guided tour of murals painted by renowned Chicano artist Emigdio Vásquez.
Vásquez, who died in 2014 at age 75, painted at least 30 murals on buildings, inside schools and restaurants and at parks in central Orange County.
Many depict scenes of Latin American and Chicano history, from the Mexican Revolution to the farm workers’ movement, to the advent of low-riders and pachucos.
Emigdio Vasquez’s Recuerdos de Mi Pueblo (1990) in the dining room at El Tapatio restaurant en Santa Ana. pic.twitter.com/rTd50QzrpD— Jill Replogle (@jillrep) December 15, 2017
Mexican, Chicano and civil rights leaders, including Cesar Chávez, Dolores Huerta and Emiliano Zapata, appear in several pieces, along with scenes of Orange County’s agricultural and industrial history.
About to head off on a self-guided tour of renowned Chicano muralist Emigdio Vasquez’s work in OC, thanks to this new My Barrio app from @ChapmanU pic.twitter.com/hC1znpELOM— Jill Replogle (@jillrep) December 15, 2017
A group of students and faculty from Chapman University built the app, called "My Barrio Murals," as part of a multi-faceted exhibit honoring Vásquez’s legacy for regional art initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
Chapman art professor Denise Johnson said she and her team got the idea for the app when they started researching Vásquez’s mural work and realized that it was both expansive and largely hidden.
"Some of the murals are really difficult to find,” Johnson said.
Inspiration for the app her team built came from a similar app that allows Palm Springs visitors to go on self-guided tours of mid-century modern architecture.
Emigdio Vasquez painted dozens of murals in central Orange County. Sadly, many no longer exist. But as part of @PSTinLA there’s now an app that has ‘em all. pic.twitter.com/6mpvSFxDjc— Jill Replogle (@jillrep) December 15, 2017
Some of Vásquez’s original murals have been restored in recent years or are under restoration, many of them by Vásquez’s son, the artist Emigdio “Higgy” Vásquez. The app also includes photos and descriptions of eight murals that have been destroyed.
Besides the app, Chapman University is hosting an exhibit of Vásquez’s easel paintings alongside the work of contemporary Chicano/a artists. The university has also commissioned a mural on campus by Higgy Vásquez, designed to showcase his own work and pay tribute to his father.