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A new leader for Self Help Graphics & Art

May 15, 2009 |  2:31 pm

Selfhelp

Self Help Graphics & Art, a nonprofit Chicano arts center in East Los Angeles, has chosen Evonne Gallardo to spearhead the organization into its 39th year. Gallardo, who was the center’s director of development from 2001 to 2003, will become executive director June 1.

“I’m thrilled,” Gallardo told Culture Monster in an interview today. “To be a part of such a huge legacy and huge community is a real privilege for me. I hope I can work with everyone to take the organization to new heights.”

The hire comes just months after the printmaking studio and gallery, founded in 1970, found itself struggling to remain at its landmark location where it had operated rent-free. A muddled situation that critics say it contributed to over the years through poor management — including a decision to padlock the building in 2005 when faced with unsafe conditions and unpaid insurance bills — jeopardized pending grants that could have helped it acquire the building. Self Help reached an agreement with the building’s new owners, Piedmont Investment Co., to remain for at least one more year, but it now has to pay rent. The current lease expires at the end of this year.

“She has the experience, knowledge and energy to help advance the organization as the leader in nurturing and promoting Chicano art in the United States,” said Stephen Saiz, president of the art center’s board of directors.

The challenge Gallardo will face is to revive the once vital organization.
“I think a very earnest balance among community activists, artists and the leadership is necessary,” Gallardo said. “There needs to be communication and transparency if we are to continue to remain vital. It’s management’s responsibility to see that every step taken, both programmatically and financially, is in cooperation with our investors, our funders, our artists and our community.”

Besides her previous experience at Self Help, Gallardo has served as director of development at the Claremont Museum of Art — where she oversaw a $1.2 million budget through donor giving programs, museum memberships and sponsorships — and Artist for a New South Africa.

— Yvonne Villarreal


Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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