Neighbor Spotlight: Artist is dedicated to her craft and East L.A.


Gloria Negrete at Evergreen Cemetery | C.J. Salgado


EAST LOS ANGELES — At 26, artist Gloria Negrete is making her mark in East L.A., one artwork at a time. Last year, her drawing of the “ghost woman” of Evergreen Cemetery graced the cover of Haunted East Los Angeles, a book of scary stories about “the most haunted locations” in East L.A. by Mario Becerra and Victor Huesca. Dedicated to her craft, she spent a day at the cemetery sketching in ink and watercolor for that project. A longtime resident of East L.A., she’s a scooter-riding, Japanese-food loving, Judo-competing, young artist with a mission: build up her portfolio.

Negrete answered some questions about her life, work and neighborhood.

How did you end up in this neighborhood?

I was born and raised here, and so were my parents. My mom’s house is on 5th Street, my grandparents bought the house together in 1947, and my dad’s childhood home is one block away on 6th St. My great aunt bought that house in the ’30s, so we’ve definitely been in this neighborhood for a long time.

What’s your workplace like?

Well, besides my “9-5”, I am an artist. It’s wherever I want it to be at that moment.

What do you do?

I’m an artist, but I don’t limit myself to any one medium – no matter what it is, it’s just a tool to show all of what’s in my head. Paint, ink, clay, foil, cloth – I want to show the world what I see when I look at it. Feel what I feel when I see it. Ten different people can look at the same street and not a single person will see it the same way. I want to show people what I see when I look through the windows of MY eyes.

Where do you like to hang out in the neighborhood and why?

The Otomisan! [in Boyle Heights]. That tiny gem of a hole-in-the-wall is my favorite place! It’s been here forever and when you are there, it feels like you are in your Japanese grandmother’s kitchen!

What’s the biggest challenge of living/working here?

The traffic! It’s a mission to get anywhere!

What does this neighborhood need?

We need an affordable, healthy grocery store. There are none locally. Google search Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other stores like that, and there is a huge gap in East LA & Boyle Heights. We are all over here dying of diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and other diet-related problems, but there are very few options for healthy eating.

What kinds of people have you met here? Anyone standout?

There are so many kinds of people that I couldn’t categorize them. Everyone is an individual here in their own way. It’s what makes this place unique. There is such a mix of people you can meet just about anybody. But the types of persons I’ve met the most are the hard-working hustlers. Working themselves to exhaustion, up at the crack of dawn, coming home in the middle of the night because they work two jobs, go to school and still make their children dinner, do laundry, and do homework. And making those dollars stretch to make rent and buy food and clothes for their kids. That’s who I know. That’s who I see.

Can you describe an Eastside “moment”?

Super HOT summer as a kid, all hunched over a big bucket of Original Recipe Raspado at the Original Snow Cone on the corner of 3rd and Indiana, with straws and spoons, elbow to elbow with my siblings, on the picnic table under the dappled shade of the grape vine trellis.

Any “tips” for those wanting to pursue a career/work/interest like yours?

Practice, practice, practice and don’t be afraid to experiment with new things. Don’t let anybody judge the process! And most importantly, don’t leave out the business side – educate yourself! You don’t HAVE to be a starving artist. And yes, you WILL need math. Don’t let your attention wander in algebra because you think you don’t need it.

Anything you miss from the past in East L.A.?

The original recipe for the Original Raspado. I was devastated when the recipe was tweaked to account for the closure of the factory that made some of the ingredients to make the syrups.

Future predictions for East L.A.?

Further displacement of the people who live here. It’s depressing seeing families who have been here for years get pushed out of their homes to make way for newcomers with deep pockets. We have a lot of history, culture and an interlacing web of people that make up this community. It’s more than just all the old buildings and houses. It’s the history of the people and the relationships that we have with each other.

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  1. Tony the Main Spoon

    Nice Q & A! More and more of these nuggets please.

  2. Aaaaaand there you have it. The punchline at the end of the article. Can’t talk about ANYTHING on the eastside without talking about the displacement of Latino families. And can we see pictures of the artists art as well??

  3. So Impressed with This GEM of a Gal!!! Love her! She is my co-worker and my pal!

  4. If you talk about ghosts and haunting, then it IS time for a change in the neighborhood.

  5. Awesome read, very interesting young woman.

    Would have liked to see some photos of her art as well.

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