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Mayan ruler at center of mission as cultural center turns 45 -

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The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts has been a centerpiece of the neighborhood’s cultural life for more than 40 years, but new exhibits put its heritage in a longer historical perspective.

upon On Friday night, as part of MCCLA’s 45th Anniversary Gala 2022, the center will present an exclusive West Coast premiere of “The Mayan Rulers at the Heart of the Mission — Reyes Mayas en el Corazon de la Mission.” The exhibition presents masterpieces of bas-relief carvings created by the Maya in the 9th and 10th centuries, linking ancestral iconography with mission inhabitants that trace their roots to Guatemala and southern Mexico.

Zacatecas-born master sculptor Manuel Parros in his Bayview studio working on a piece.

Zacatecas-born master sculptor Manuel Parros created his work in his studio in Bayview. right. Her father inherited the mold from João Patten, whose work was licensed by the Guatemalan government to preserve Mayan carvings.

Theft was already a problem at Mayan sites like Tikal, but a devastating magnitude 7.5 earthquake in 1976 destroyed several museums where the artifacts were displayed. Patten used a cast to replicate the damaged piece. The MCCLA exhibit features 23 of his works out of about 90 cast from the molds Paros is restoring.

“My father removed them in his spare time and just started working on them. It’s going to be amazing. When the Mission Cultural Center contacted me, I decided that now was the perfect time to start exhibiting.”

Founded in 1977 by artists and community activists, MCCLA is dedicated to showcasing and promoting the creative expression of Chicanx, Caribbean and Latin American peoples, and has played a multifaceted role in its mission. It is a gallery, performance space, study center, community hall, and a leader in documenting and preserving the work of visual artists, poets, sculptors, dancers, and musicians.

The MCCLA’s historic role in championing Latinx culture was recognized last month when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously named the building a city landmark. This recognition is timely as the institution is rebuilding after being closed for two years during the pandemic. With Martina Ayala as Executive Director, her MCCLA is in the hands of a seasoned cultural activist with many years of experience working in an international environment.

As a Chikana I growing up in East Los Angeles, Ayala grew up in the movement. Although she graduated from Franklin High School in Her Park, Highlands, her true education came among artists and cultural activists in her neighborhood.