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Rage Against the Machine's Highland Park History

Muralist Raul Baltazar reflects on his and Rage frontman Zack De La Rocha's artistic endeavors in Highland Park.

Muralist Raul Paulino Baltazar's name may not be familiar to many Highland Park residents, but his work is.

Along with Rage Against the Machine and One Day as a Lion front man Zack De La Rocha, Baltazar was responsible for bringing artists and political activists from across Southern California to Highland Park in the mid 1990s.

Baltazar was on hand during L.A. based Folk Art Everywhere's tour through Highland Park on Saturday, and briefly spoke about his and De La Rocha's time in the neighborhood.

The two men set up shop in the former location of the Sunbeam Theater at the intersection of N. Figueroa St. and S. Ave 58, where they met regularly every Thursday with like minded young artists to perform and discuss politics.

Among the groups with which Baltazar and De La Rocha aligned themselves were the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a revolutionary group of indigenous Mexicans who have engaged in peaceful, non-violent political protest against the Mexican Government since 1994.

"When the Zapatistas started their revolution we automatically became an ally to them," Baltazar said.

Baltazar is also responsible for the mural that adorns La Estrella Restaurant on 6103 N. Figueroa St. 

"We spawned a lot of muralism in this community," Baltazar said. "A lot of us started tapping into our indigenous roots, and going into ceremony. Others went more into politics. There was a lot of activism--it was a really important time."

De La Rocha enjoyed some national fame with Rage Against the Machine before walking away from the commercial spotlight. He continues to make music and, after nearly decade long hiatus, has resumed playing shows with Rage Against the Machine.

Baltazar has continued along on his artistic journey as well, regularly coordinating mural projects across Los Angeles. He currently lives in Echo Park.

Raul Paulino Baltazar March 28, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Thanks for the great article, I just want to clarify that it was not only Zack and I that started this thing, it was and has always been a community effort much bigger than either of us. R
Darlene March 29, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Please continue to enlighten and enrich our community through the arts. For futures sake we need this now more than ever, especially our youth.
Alberto April 25, 2011 at 05:50 PM
'93 was the year I left L.A. for the East Coast after graduating from Franklin and so missed out the transition from what NELA was to what it came to be... for the most I like what I see but things like what appears to be a tour given by Raul here are the types of activities that will help Highland Park and NELA "growing" in a way that regonizes/reflects its history and maintains its spirit (working class people with strong civic pride) rather than "transforming" into something utterly distinct and unrelated. I eat La Estrella at least a couple times a month for lunch and have always appreciated Raul's mural there.
REgeneracion May 23, 2011 at 10:55 PM
This is not factually accurate
Patrick Lee May 24, 2011 at 04:53 PM
REgeneracion: Hi there! If you see a factual problem in our story, please send a note to the Highland Park Patch editor David Fonseca: david.fonseca (a) patch.com . We'd like to correct any errors!

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