Published on October 25th, 2016 | by Aasha Francis0
Man in the Mural : Hispanic Heritage Month Artist Spotlight
John Vergara painted his version of the Puerto Rican flag on the streets of his Humboldt Park neighborhood when a mayor of a town in Puerto Rico passed by impressed with his work. This encounter led him to his creation of the “Paseo Boricua” official flag of Humboldt Park. Vergara is a native of the Humboldt Park neighborhood and his love for drawing and painting began when he was only six years old. “I messed up a lot of walls and canvases,” Vergara laughs.
He has been an artist for 35 years and contributed to the restoration of 4 of the oldest murals in the country including “The Crucifixion of Pedro Albizu Campos,” on North Avenue and Artesian Avenue in Humboldt Park, which community residents protested to save the mural, due to an impending condo being built. “When I see the mural that’s how I know I’m home. There were artists who painted these murals that were abandoned and in a time of gentrification, it’s not cool for people to drive or walk around a see a mural and not know the history and story behind it,” Vergara says.
Other notable work Vergara has done includes “Rise from the Ashes” which depicts a Humboldt Park riot that took place in the 1960’s, when a Puerto Rican man was shot by police, causing a riot to break out in the streets. Vergara’s work takes his love for his Puerto Rican heritage, blending it with the history and culture surrounding him. He displayed his work for Hispanic Heritage Month where students could learn the story behind his paintings. “I loved how he incorporated history in it and portrays a vivid imagination as if he was there. I would use this as inspiration to explore my own background and culture,” Wright College student, Tracy Choy says.
Vergara’s work represents the celebration of Latino history and culture, which is the heart of what Hispanic Heritage Month is all about.