It’s been 90 years since the first “living pictures” – tableaux vivants – were presented as a novelty during the 1933 Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach. Since then, the Pageant of the Masters has come a long way to become the now world-famous theatrical celebration of art featuring stage illusions, live music, and narration. This summer’s production, “Art Colony: In the Company of Artists,” features two modern masters of Chicano art. Paintings by Los Angeles artists David Botello and Wayne Alaniz Healy are transformed into “living pictures” on the Pageant stage, broadening the appeal of the production to younger and more diverse audiences.
“Having an opportunity to introduce our Pageant audiences to works by these two extraordinary artists is such a privilege,” said scriptwriter Dan Duling. “David and Wayne are still creating personal artworks, so if I have a question, I can go directly to the source.”
Last year, The Cheech Museum opened in Riverside, Calif. and houses the vast personal collection of Chicano art belonging to Hollywood icon and art aficionado Cheech Marin. It’s a great gift to Southern California, and the works in this summer’s Pageant by Botello and Healy are part of its permanent collection. These pieces include “Pre-Game Warmup” from 2001 by Wayne Alaniz Healy and “Alone and Together Under the Freeway” from 1992 by David Botello.
Acclaimed for their original personal art, Wayne Alaniz Healy and David Botello first made their mark in Southern California during the 1970s as public muralists. Originally focusing on public paintings in and around East Los Angeles, they teamed up in 1975 to form an art partnership they eventually called East Los Streetscapers. Their astounding output of public murals, not only in Los Angeles but in many other cities around the country, has won acclaim and numerous commendations from civic leaders.
Healy and Botello’s artistic collaboration began even earlier. “In third grade at Humphreys Avenue Elementary School in East L.A., David and Wayne would happily draw for hours,” Duling explained. “Their teacher asked them to create a mural on butcher paper for an open house. They chose as their subject: dinosaurs!” The Botello family was forced to move when their home was demolished to make way for the Long Beach Freeway. Healy and Botello lost touch. Following high school, Healy chose a career in aerospace and Botello went into the Army, then later got involved in advertising. Still, they remained passionate about the possibility of designing and painting murals while raising their families and working full-time.
Then, at an art event in 1975, they met again for the first time since third grade. Soon, they were coming up with mural ideas and seeking commissions. At that time, neighborhood murals were a perfect artistic expression of emerging Chicano identity and activism. Originally coined as a derogatory term, the word “Chicano” was embraced by the expanding community of American citizens born in this country to families of Mexican heritage. Botello and Healy committed themselves to creating public art that would mirror and inspire the hopes and aspirations of their communities. Their public art resonated with their surroundings and reflected the belief that their murals belonged to those who lived and worked near them. At the same time, Botello and Healy continued to work on their personal art, exhibiting in group shows and galleries when not working on mural commissions.
In the fall of 2022, the Pageant approached the artists to ask permission to reproduce artworks by each of them. Scriptwriter Duling shared the Pageant’s admiration for their paintings as a reflection of the growing appreciation for Chicano art and the desire to introduce Pageant audiences to two hometown heroes whose story and artistry had universal resonance.
On a special night in August, Botello and Healy and their families will be welcomed into the Irvine Bowl to see what it’s like to have their paintings transformed into Pageant “living pictures.” Director Challis Davy, her co-workers, and Pageant volunteers all hope they’ll be pleased with the results.