Three decades of arts classes, exhibits and performances have made Self Help Graphics & Art one of East Los Angeles’ most important cultural centers. But, with the mosaic-covered building up for sale, a reinvigorated Self Help Graphics is deciding whether to stay or leave its longtime home at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Gage avenues, perhaps moving into the City of Los Angeles and neighboring Boyle Heights. The arts group is still studying its options and has not made any decision, but the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency has been talking to Self Help Graphics about leasing a former seafood plant in Boyle Heights.
“We are in negotiations with them to help them identify a new home,” said Donna DeBruhl-Hemer, a project manager for the CRA’s Eastside region. “We are one of several places they are looking at. It’s far from a done deal.”
Self Help Graphics, for its part, issued a statement in response to a request for comment:
“Since the Catholic Archdiocese’s sale of the Self Help Graphics building in 2008, the Self Help board and staff have been evaluating a number of location options. These options include continuing the lease and/or purchase of the current site as well as a move to a new location. As good stewards, we must evaluate every option. We will continue to operate for the foreseeable future at Cesar Chavez and Gage.”
The company that purchased the 1927 building from the archidiocese put the building back on the market earlier this year and is now asking $1.5 million for the structure and adjacent parking lot. On Friday, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the area’s largest historic preservation group, will appear before a county commission as it seeks to win state landmark protection for the building.
Bruhl-Hemer said the CRA staff has discussed leasing a former sea urchin processing plant at First and Utah streets to Self Help Graphics. The agency purchased the building, across the street from the new Mendez Learning Center and a Gold Line rail stop, last year as it contemplates future development in the area, which is located a few blocks west of Mariachi Plaza. “We are looking at First Street as a fledgling arts district … this would be the western tip,” she said.
She emphasized that discussions have remained in the early stages, and that it might take a year before Self Help Graphics makes a decision.
Preservationists seek protection for East L.A. arts landmark. The Eastsider