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Guillermo Acevedo’s art celebrates San Diego

March 27, 2015

By Pablo J. Sáinz

Artists Guillermo Acevedo with his son Mario Torero.

Artists Guillermo Acevedo with his son Mario Torero.

One of San Diego’s pioneering Latino artists is part of a Balboa Park Centennial celebration exhibition at the San Diego International Airport.

Some of Guillermo Acevedo’s original works featuring sketches and drawings of Balboa Park and other San Diego landmarks are included in Balboa Park & the City: Celebrating San Diego’s Panama-California Exposition, which opened this week and will continue through January.

The exhibition includes historic items, replicas and images from seven local institutions and collectors.

“With 30 installations spread among all three terminals, the exhibition offers a truly immersive experience that takes you back in time,” said Thella F. Bowens, president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Acevedo is one of 10 artists featured in the exhibition, and his work is highlighted with a special exbitit in the airport’s West End Gallery. Acevedo is considered a pioneer of Latino art in San Diego who greatly influenced young artists in the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

For his son, Chicano Park muralist Mario Torero, this exbihition means that his father’s work and legacy will be known by new generations of San Diegans.

“It makes me very proud,” Torero said. “My dad was very involved in the preservation of San Diego landmarks, and he saw architecture as an art, when many didn’t consider it one.”

Even though Acevedo died in 1988, Torero said his work is more relevant than ever.

“It is the right time, along with the centennial celebration, to rediscover my father’s work,” he said.

Born in Lima, Peru, Acevedo immigrated with his wife and children to the U.S. in 1959 as an intellectual refugee, fleeing the repression and dictatorship that was forming in the South American country during that time.

He became a mentor for a whole generation of Chicano artists in San Diego, and was instrumental in the founding of the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park, and of Chicano Park in Barrio Logan.

“He was the first Latino artist in San Diego to reach certain status,” Torero said. “He was very celebrated by young Chicano artists.”

Torero said that his father “saw beauty everywhere.”

Thus, in the airport exhibition one can see his exceptional illustrations of San Diego and Balboa Park landmarks.

“[Acevedo] was moved to capture local Victorian homes and beloved sites like Balboa Park and the Santa Fe Depot through his drawings and illustrations, which helped spur efforts to save historical landmark houses in the 1960s,” reads the exhibit in the airport’s West End Gallery.

“The selection of images brought together here, many exhibited for the first time, honor the diversity and beauty of San Diego and the surrounding region. Collectively, they reflect Acevedo’s singular vision of art as a means of cultural and historical preservation,” the exhibit’s introduction continues.

Torero said that he’s working on a book that celebrate’s his father’s art and legacy. He plans to publish the book later this year.

“My father appreciated beauty wherever he was,” Torero said. “He loved San Diego: its people, its landscape, its architecture.”

Torero added that the drawings in the airport exhibition are part of Acevedo’s love for the city that welcomed him and his family.

To learn more about Balboa Park & the City: Celebrating San Diego’s Panama-California Exposition , visit www.san.org/Airport-Art.

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