Luis "Che" Andrade '09 works on a wall-sized mural in the University Library. (Photo: Diane Daniel)
Some day Luis Andrade '09, who goes by “Che,” may be as famous as the muralists he idolizes, including David Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. At the moment he’s wrapping up a bold 10-foot by 30-foot painting on an upstairs wall of the Cal State East Bay Library.
Linda Dobb, university librarian and interim associate provost, invites everyone to celebrate the dedication of the artwork at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, in conjunction with National Library Week April 11-17.
Andrade, who received his bachelor of fine arts from CSUEB in traditional arts, responded last fall to the library’s quest for a diversity-themed mural. By the time he started to apply paint in the winter quarter, current art students Pat McCabe, Carol Faber, Kathleen Bonnar, Rene Mijares, and Leslie Becerra, plus Yulian Nuñez, a Chabot College student, were helping in its execution.
The son of educators, Andrade thought at first he needed a political science degree to give voice to his strong personal beliefs. But a year assisting muralist Carlos Coronado in Mexico convinced him he can be every bit as effective with art. Titled “Education has Voice,” his library mural is proof of that.
In it a young student representing the future is insulated by teachers, farmers, intellectuals, a missionary, and others of various ethnicities from such external forces as war, violence, fundamentalism, drugs and capitalist thieves.
Unlike many contemporary murals, Andrade treated the piece like a large painting. He incorporated realistic, full figures developed through layers, rather than the very simplified – almost abstract – spray paint stytle made popular in East Los Angeles.
Art Professor Grace Munakata said: “This mural is so Che. He questions how various institutions such as government, religious and financial, impact individuals’ lives and their ability to fulfill their dreams. Our diverse backgrounds strengthen us, but also create differences in access to education and work.”
Andrade says the mural proves his goal that a message can pack a political wallop while being aesthetically pleasing.
“This is a big step to my future,” says the young man, who hopes that with this creation in his portfolio, he’ll get mural commissions from Hayward, Alameda County, and Chabot College, and maybe even become a “Precita Eyes Muralist” in San Francisco’s Mission District.
“We wanted something in the library that would celebrate diversity, education, the arts, and the mural tradition of the Bay Area," said Dobb. "Che’s work does all of that and more. We are proud of his work and look forward to sharing it with the community during National Library Week.”
Andrade was born in Southern California; soon after that he moved to Mexicalli, in Baja Mexico, for his father’s high ranking work in education, then back to the U.S. when he was 9. Inspired by an artistic mother, he said he has loved art all his life, taking his first formal art training at age 7. So strong was his artwork, people sometimes assumed he had had help from an elder.
The young artist tried several mediums before settling solely on paint. These days, when not putting in seven to eight hour days on the library wall, Andrade is painting in oils at his Hayward home or curating at the Sandra Lee Gallery in San Francisco, where some of his pieces are shown.
Andrade’s mother, Maria Leon, has already previewed the mural. Both she and his father, Jose Luis Andrade, will be back for the dedication and reception, which is open to all.
In a spirit of goodwill, the University Library’s National Library Week celebration, April 11 through 17, will offer amnesty on certain types of library fines. The exceptions are LINK+, ICS laptops, billing fees, processing fees, or lost/damaged materials. For information on amnesty, go to library.csueastbay.edu or call (510) 885-3612.