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Denver Public Library to exhibit artwork by local Chicana artist paying homage to 'Mexican Heroes'

Carlota Espinoza's restored fire-damaged piece will be permanently installed in a branch of the Denver Public Library.

DENVER — The Denver Public Library will host a mural dedication for the painting titled “Mexican Heroes,'' created by local Chicana muralist Carlota Espinoza. 

The dedication takes place on Saturday, May 21, at 11 a.m., at the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch Library, located at 1498 N. Irving St. 

The mural was originally installed at the branch in 2020, during the library’s closure due to the pandemic, and is now on permanent display.

The mural, "Mexican Heroes," also known as, "A Tribute to Mexican Heroes," is a large, roughly 4.5 x 9-foot oil on canvas painting. It was one of two murals created in 1966 by Carlota Espinoza for the Crusade for Justice Center. Founded in 1966 by Chicano activist Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, the center served as headquarters for the Crusade for Justice, a national activist organization in the Chicano Movement.

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The artwork depicts three individuals important to Mexico’s history: the 26th President of Mexico, Benito Juarez (1806-1872); Mexican Revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata Salazar (1879-1919); and Francisco "Pancho" Villa (1878-1923), Mexican revolutionary general. Small vignettes depict the struggles faced by the Mexican people and will surround these portraits.

"Mexican Heroes," was salvaged from the Crusade for Justice Center by a local artist and a leader in the local Chicano Arts Movement, Carlos Santistevan. In 1968, Santistevan founded Denver’s first Chicano art gallery, El Grito de Aztlán, at the Crusade for Justice Center. In 2012 the mural was donated to Denver Public Library by Carlos and Anita Santistevan.

More information can be found at history.denverlibrary.org.  

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