Chapter 11: The Chicana and the Arts
14. Who was Gloria Torres?
Chicana artists give credibility and power to everyday work and accomplishments. Gloria Torres added her own distinctive touch to the park pillars soon after this initial period of the Park’s takeover. She grew up in San Diego, drawing and painting her whole life. Soon she was contributing her talents to whatever was needed in the park.
Gloria was married in Chicano Park to one of the founders, Salvador Roberto Torres. I danced at her wedding and soon realized that this marriage represented the lasting and egalitarian relationship between Chicano and Chicana.
Gloria’s work came into its own during the second phase of Chicano Park that started after many of the murals were painted. Gloria and Salvador organized campaigns for the upkeep and beautification of the park. They became known to the community as the true keepers of the park. The change in the look of the park happened because of them.
Gloria’s presence and her art also added a new dimension. Gloria’s art represented her growing up in San Diego; her work was life-giving. She began painting her childhood and the animals she helped raise. The little chivos, the baby goats represented the life and work of this Chicana artist. They filled the galleries, the art exhibits, and the murals on San Diego walls. Like the work of artists capturing the love that goes into the labors of everyday life, Gloria’s work was unique in this respect, with its animals and children.
Gloria’s celebrations of everyday events, painterly and lush, have captured audiences. While the teamwork with Salvador made a strong statement about human relationships in the San Diego arts community, Gloria Torres’ art work has a strength of its own. Her hard work is now evident on walls all over San Diego.