Musician and long time El Sereno resident, Francisco Aguilarios, had an epiphany 8 months ago as he w alked along the L.A. River and under the Broadway
Bridge, near Lincoln Heights. He caught a glimpse of a magazine article in a worn out issue of Citizen L.A. that lined his path. The article featured
Boyle Heights muralist, Fabian Debora . Upon reading it, Francisco immediately made it his personal mission to find Debora, for he though t, “he is the one”
who will restore the faded mural outside of Nate’s Liquor Store on Huntington Drive. It was painted by his friend, El Sereno artist, Richard Ruiz , in the early
1970’s. Today, nearly 30 years later, in its dim glory, the mural’s bottom portion has been replaced with grey paint due to continuous tagging.
Unfortunately, in 1980, Richard Ruiz suffered a fatal accident that marked an early and untimely dea th; way before street art received official cataloging or
murals became accepted as legitimate art. Long time L.A. muralist, Ernesto De La Loza, confirmed th at Richard Ruiz was indeed a pioneer of the Los Angeles
Chicano mural movement of the 70’s in a 10 minute promotional film Debora shared. It is filmed by M andeep, produced by Misol Productions, and presented
by, For The Record Films. Debora shared that the short film currently serves as a promotional tool to gain support for the project. He also mentioned his plan
to record the restoration process in a documentary film with community involvement in various ceremo nies and celebrations taking place at the site of the
mural. Debora believes that the project gives back so much more to the community than just another r estored mural; It serves as a representation of peace,
hope, and unity.
Debora grew up at Aliso Village in Boyle Heights and attended Dolores Mission Elementary before growing into a disgruntled teen run ning amok in a
disadvantaged area. There he began ‘piecing’ on the streets, trying to stay away from trouble even t hough trouble seemed to be everywhere. However, he
always had a love for art, and consequently given art supplies consistently from his aunt at a very young age. So the creative process runs in his blood and
according to Aguilarios he’s certainly “the one”.
Aguilarios tracked down Debora last year at Homeboy Industries , where he works as a drug counselor. He asked him to join him at Xocolatl Café where they
discussed Aguilarios’ desire to have Debora be the artist to spearhead this restoration project. Agu ilarios told him Ruiz’s story about growing up in El Sereno
and took him to see some of Ruiz’s original drawings, paintings, and poetry, in addition to meeting Ruiz’s sisters, Norma and Elena Lopez, and his mother,
Elizabeth Cisneros. Debora was blown away by serendipitous succession of artwork and agreed with Aqu ilarios that he was meant to take on the Richard Ruiz
mural restoration project. Not only did Debora agree to the project for Richard Ruiz’s his artistic legacy or his family, but to give them a sense of peace and
pride. It unites the youth and the community through the arts, and for Debora, the muralists of the ‘70s, is the culture of the history and the future. Knowledge
is power; no one can ever say it enough.
Debora’s vision for the restoration process includes bringing in long time muralist and friend, Davi d Botello, and Wayne Healy of East Los Streetscapers , in
addition to Ernesto De La Loza-mentors who have inspired and educated Debora. He would like for the m to join the youth and community, peers amongst
neighbors of today, in Ruiz’s honor. Debora wants to fuel the youth of El Sereno with knowledge on the existence of the murals on our streets, as well as the
reason for their restoration. Debora believes that understanding culture and history plays a signifi cant role in respecting the future, and Richard Ruiz’s mural at
the site along Nate’s attempts to convey that very same message. Debora knows that Ruiz speaks to h im through Aguilarios, and he is willing to do what it
takes to see this particular project completed.
Debora informed, Our Town , that Arturo Gonzalez, District Director for Jose Huizar’s office, is working with him to secure a budget with the city council to
preserve Richard Ruiz’s historic mural in El Sereno. Once budgets are approved, Debora will be calli ng out to the youth and the community of El Sereno to
contribute their support, time, ideas, and talents to the cause.
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