South Wing Galleries

Emigdio Vasquez: Works from the Fred Ortiz Collection

February 23, 2024 – August 3, 2024
Curated by Federico (Fred) Apodaca Ortiz

When Orange resident Fred Apodaca Ortiz met the pioneering Chicano artist Emigdio Vasquez (1939-2014) for the first time in 1995 at the Librería Martínez in Santa Ana, he wanted to purchase one of Vasquez’s paintings on display at the book store. “But Emigdio refused to sell it,” Ortiz recalls. “He said he wanted to keep that particular piece.”

But the artist mulled it over, and a few weeks later, he changed his mind and sold the painting (“Mike’s Pool Hall,” pictured) to Ortiz. That, says Ortiz, was the beginning of his beautiful friendship with the man who has been nicknamed “the Godfather of Chicano art.” Over the ensuing years, until Vasquez passed away in 2014, Ortiz commissioned and purchased many more paintings from the acclaimed artist, who also lived in Orange.

This stunning array of Vasquez oil paintings, drawings and memorabilia is now on view at the Hilbert Museum in the exhibition “Emigdio Vasquez: Works from the Fred Ortiz Collection.” The show was curated by Ortiz, who also wrote a companion book.

The Vasquez paintings on display include pieces that depict the vibrant culture and everyday life of his community, the Cypress Street Barrio in Orange, as well as portraits, classic cars, still lifes and more.

Vasquez was also famed for his many outdoor murals, illustrating the struggles and triumphs of the Mexican-American community, including one at Santa Ana College and another on an apartment building owned by Chapman University on Cypress Street. His paintings are held in numerous private and public collections, including the Laguna Art Museum and the Bowers Museum.