On November 12, 30 L.A. County-based artists unveiled a group of never-before-seen sculptures exploring the most pressing issues facing our region. Commissioned by CCF, the We Are Los Angeles exhibit represents the collective diversity and strength of Los Angeles. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of our board members and donors, these sculptures now reside with organizations that make an impact on these issues and transform the lives of Angelenos every day.

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This poem was written to commemorate the end of the California Community Foundation’s centennial at We Are Los Angeles, Nov. 12, 2016.

By Luis J. Rodriguez
Poet Laureate of Los Angeles

Every summer when Santa Ana winds scatter around dry leaves and dead
tree branches, and droughts make kindle out of the formerly green,

a human hand or lightning strike can awaken the fire in all things,
fire that also burns inside each of us, becoming the searing

soul-birth of creativity—and of dirt, seed-ground for new plants,
flowers, regeneration. Wildfires are metaphor and reality for our internal

and external terrains. Things come back, but not always like before.
There’s a natural order to life, a rhythm we often miss, but the tones

persist despite our lack of hearing, of paying attention—or just ignoring.
Tempos and beats come at us every day, every hour, in dark and in light,

as drops of water or gust-hands on our faces and backs. Los Angeles is music
but also muscles, a rain dance often with no rain, neon glare and smog-tinged

skyline, held together in a spider-web called freeways,
a place where even Jacarandas and palm trees are transplants.

This city gives and takes away, but in nature whatever is removed is returned,
even if in surprising ways, unexpected, with a twist.

The human way is too chaotic, nonsensical, although laden with inventiveness.
Buildings are bricked, stuccoed, and nailed together with stories,

survival stories, war stories, love stories, the kind of harrowing accounts
Los Angeles exudes at 3 am, when ghosts meander the upturned pavement,

rumble by on vintage cars, and all night diners convert to summits for
the played out, heartsick, and suicidal—fodder for Hollywood scripts or L.A.

noir novels. There’s a migrant soul in this rooted city, Skid Row next to
the Diamond District, waves of foam against barnacled piers,

cafes and boutiques next to panaderias and botanicas. Ravines and gulleys
turn into barrios; rustic homes with gardens dot bleak cityscapes;

and suburbs burst with world-class graffiti. Fragmented yet cohesive,
Los Angeles demands reflection of ourselves, and the unstable ground

we call home. As in nature, the inequities can be breached, the gaps bridged,
for home is also an invitation to care, to do whatever

balances, whatever complements, whatever unites and clarifies,
as poverty, violence, and uncertainty shake up safety and sanity.

The key is for human law to align to natural law, for people to proclaim
“enough is enough” and “what I do matters,” with deep

examination, proper adaptation, full cognizance. No persons should die for lack
of a roof or food or compassion. As John Fante would say,

they are “songs over sidewalks,” imaginations on the interchange,
humanity that deserves connection, touch, breath. These roads, bridges,

alleys also contain concertos. Breezes over ocean’s darkest depths are rife
with harmonies. And a howling moon and red sunset serve as backdrops

for every aching interlude, soundtracks to revive the inert. Los Angeles is
where every step rhymes, where languages flit off tongues like bows across

strings, skateboarders and aerosol spray cans clatter as daily percussion,
and angels intone “we can do better,” while haggling at garage sales.

##

$129 million pledged as part of Centennial Legacy Campaign

LOS ANGELES – November 12, 2016 – The California Community Foundation (CCF) is celebrating the culmination of its 100th year with a public art exhibit exploring social issues in Los Angeles County and celebrating the many visionary donors who have contributed to the foundation’s Centennial Legacy Campaign.

Initiated in 2013, the campaign aimed to encourage L.A. residents to make permanent legacy gifts to address the future needs of Los Angeles County. The campaign has raised $129 million in pledges from 112 donors. Whether they wish to support a single organization or broad issue area like education or health, CCF will steward their legacy gifts to benefit generations to come.

For 100 years, CCF has championed a variety of issues across the county. Most recently, as our homelessness crisis continues to escalate, CCF has invested in building more permanent supportive housing for the homeless. This includes services like mental health or substance abuse treatment to help our homeless neighbors thrive.

Marking the end of the centennial today is We Are Los Angeles – a public exhibit that aims to foster civic pride and unity – values that frame CCF’s work. Thirty-two renowned local artists have enhanced modern angel statues to convey their hopes for meaningful change.

“The goal of our centennial has been to motivate Angelenos to create enduring legacy gifts and increase conversation about solutions to our region’s most urgent challenges,” said California Community Foundation President & CEO Antonia Hernández. “As art has the power to spark dialogue and move people, we hope the We Are Los Angeles exhibit inspires people toward greater engagement in building a stronger community.”

The exhibit was inspired by Community of Angels, a large-scale temporary public art installation that took place in Los Angeles from 2000-02. The foundation partnered with artist Gayle Garner Roski – who designed an angel in 2002 – to reimagine the design for today. Roski designed the six-foot-tall statue out of plasticated foam core that has two intersecting cutouts mimicking the timeless paper doll.

We Are Los Angeles artists are:

Raul Baltazar
Lili Bernard
Guillermo Bert
Enrique Castrejon
Otha “Vakseen” Davis III
Fabian Debora
Joe Galarza
Joel Garcia
Yolanda Gonzalez
Jennifer Gutierrez Morgan
Zeal Harris
Siobhan Hebron
Pearl C. Hsiung
Sandra Low
Jose Lozano
Poli Marichal
Barry Markowitz
Álvaro D. Márquez
Dalila Paola Mendez
Noni Olabisi
Raul B. Pizarro
Ramon Ramirez
Jose Ramirez
Vyal Reyes
Victor Rosas
Gayle Garner Roski
Miyo Stevens-Gandara
Haruko Tanaka
Linda Vallejo
Ray Vargas
Angel Villanueva
J Michael Walker

You can see their work online at staging5.calfund.org/wala and in person from Nov. 12-17 at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

Following the exhibit, the angel statues will be sponsored and donated to nonprofit organizations throughout Los Angeles County that are working to improve the quality of life for all residents.

Learn more about the Centennial Legacy Campaign at staging5.calfund.org/donors/centennial-legacy-campaign.

CONTACT
Chris Compton
marcomm@staging5.calfund.org
(213) 413-4130

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