Casa Aztlán, 1977
1831 South Racine Avenue
Established in 1970, the Casa Aztlán community center is one of the oldest social service agencies in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood on the city's Near Southwest Side. Ray Patlán served as the center’s first artist-in-residence and, as one of the early members of the Chicago Mural Group (known today as the Chicago Public Art Group), painted a mural on the exterior of the building.
The Pilsen neighborhood, named by Chicago's early Czech immigrants after Plzeň, the fourth largest city in what is now the Czech Republic, transitioned over time from European ethnic groups to Mexican-Americans, many of whom were striving in the 1970s to preserve their culture.
When the original mural by Patlán and Aurelio Diaz began to fade in 1977, Marcos Raya (born 1948), a key member of the Mexican/Chicano mural renaissance of the 1970s and '80s, replaced the mural with this brightly colored work. Local teens helped with the mural, which depicts important figures in Mexican history, including Frida Kahlo, Pancho Villa, Benito Juarez and others. Pre-Columbian images reminiscent of Diego Rivera's work can also be seen in the mural. Other restoration work by Raya includes 2010 repainting of the vintage guerilla “People’s Art” piece Prevent World War III at 18th Street and Western Avenue.