Skip to Content

Self-Help Graphics Will Own its Building For First Time in History

10:44 AM PST on December 20, 2017

Self-Help Graphics & Art, the Eastside arts institution that’s been around for more than 40 years, may have beat back the tide of gentrification and rising rents in Boyle Heights and will be owner of the building it occupies.

The organization that began in the heyday of the Chicano Movement with Sister Karen Boccalero just finished the year with a double-dose of funding from local government agencies, ensuring it can stay at its current location just east of the L.A. River. It will be the first time in its history that the organization will own a building for its array of exhibits, printmaking, festivals, and workshops.

Yesterday (Dec. 19), Self-Help announced it is receiving $450,000 in redevelopment funding from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Along with $825,000 secured earlier this month in redevelopment funding from the City Council, this means the organization has enough to buy the state-owned site it currently uses on East 1st Street, in the flats of Boyle Heights.

The sale is for $3,625,000 for the former Ocean Queen seafood packing plant. In its quest to become owner of the building, Self-Help Graphics had already raised $2.8 million in private donations and foundation funding, said Betty Avila, co-director of Self-Help.

‘This is a homecoming for Self-Help Graphics.’

The building is in a section of Boyle Heights that has seen rapid changes with the arrival of galleries from outside the area — or even outside the city — turning it into a flashpoint in the ongoing struggles over L.A.’s eastward-marching gentrification.  Avila said the timing of the purchase was urgent because prices were sure to rise further in 2018 in the area.

“Obviously we wanted to lock in a price knowing how the market is,” Avila said in an interview on Tuesday with L.A. TACO.

“The conversation did at some point go to, ‘Do we go somewhere else? Does it have to be this building?’” she added. “For us it was a matter of staying in the neighborhood. If we wanted to go a building that was more affordable, we’d be going completely out of the range of the communities we serve.”

Self-Help has been renting at the First Street building since 2011. Before, it spent decades at a mosaic-covered historic building in unincorporated East Los Angeles, where one of the city’s oldest Muertos festivals had taken place. But that building, owned by the L.A. archdiocese, was sold to a private firm, forcing Self-Help to move to Boyle Heights — renting on the market.

Now Self-Help is reaching the status of owner. However, the sale is not expected to become final until spring 2018, said Self-Help spokesperson Jennifer Cuevas.

Meantime, people can help the organization celebrate by checking out its current PST:LA/LA exhibit on the cultural legacy of Dia de los Muertos.

“This is huge,” Avila said. “This is a homecoming for Self-Help Graphics.”

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Echo Park’s Own Xochitl Gomez Wins The Finale of Dancing With the Stars

The young Marvel star shared the importance of showcasing her Mexican heritage in her ballroom dances through her song choices, set design, and wardrobe. Gomez is a constant advocate for representation both on movie sets and now in the ballroom.

December 6, 2023

‘These Animals Saved My Life:’ L.A.’s Equestrian Communities Fight Ordinance Seeking to Ban Local Rodeos

After three hours of public comments from both sides, the City Council decided the ordinance be sent back and reviewed before it officially can be voted on. L.A.'s cowboys and cowgirls who were present at the meeting took this as a small win for the city's rodeo culture.

December 6, 2023

Woman Brings Claim Against City, Alleging Former LAPD Assistant Chief Put Tracking Device on Her Car

While on a trip with friends in September, the plaintiff discovered an Apple Airtag in a black box attached to the undercarriage of her vehicle, the claim states. Her friend scanned the Airtag and found that the serial number and owner information matched the last four digits of former Assistant Chief Alfred Labrada's city cellphone, according to her claim.

December 6, 2023

Exclusive: Macheen and Horchatería Rio Luna to Open New School Torta Shop in Paramount

Expect a tender beef barbacoa torta served with guajillo consomé to dip, a torta ahogada de camarón (shrimp) with a yuzu avocado puree drowned in a spicy lobster stock, and a "Mexi-Italian" sandwich with panela, hot pistachio salsa macha, and mortadella. This innovative torta venture in SELA is set to open next week on Monday.

December 5, 2023
See all posts