Friday, February 22, 2013

Sacred places

There are some places where one can go and you can feel surrounded by sacredness.  One of those places for me has been the Southwest Museum.  Traveling north from East LA on the Pasadena Freeway I would see it perched on the hill.  I wondered what it was and what was in the building.  I knew nothing of its being connected with Charles Lummis, the Arroyo Culture, or it's being a repository for Native Culture.

Years ago I was a I was a member of the educational/musical group "Aztec Stories" and we performed at the Southwest.  My friend Del and I have a special musical and personality resonance; trusting each other and letting our voices take us where they will.   It was always a joy to sing with Del, but the performance at the Southwest was special.  Our voices soared - I came away with chills from the experience.  I'm sure this was in part from our performing together and in part because of singing in that very special place.  
Southwest Museum as seen from the Audubon Center at Debs Park

The museum has been closed for close to a decade and there's lots of politics surrounding its closure and its potential re-opening.  I have to wonder if it will open again.  It is one of the few museums of its kind in NE Los Angeles.  It was a place where folks who live in the neighborhood could go to learn about the past, to learn about the First Peoples who lived in the area, and who could, on occasion be in a space that reconnects us with sacred spaces in nature that used to surround us.

Please check out the sites below. It is unique in its place in history and its site in Northeast L.A.


  1. So glad I was able to visit right before it closed. Is the art on exhibit somewhere these days?

    1. I'm not sure. Certain there aren't any exhibits in NELA that highlight this part of our heritage. So the collection is one part of this tragedy, the second part is the loss of the SW Museum as a cultural/historical venue that folks in places like Highland Park, Eagle Rock, and South Pasadena could get to with some sort of ease. There is also the magnet school that has, or had, curriculum that included curatorial sorts of studies that they were able to use in conjunction with the SWM. Beyond this, the SWM is a treasure of Arroyo Culture and history. It's a huge loss.
      The Autry does swell stuff on a grander regional basis. The SWM did that on a more local basis.