A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines

California Independent Booksellers Alliance-CALIBA panel on "Speculative Fiction"
Sep 10, 2020

Sesshu Foster presents ELADATL at about 31 minutes in. . . .

Interview with Sesshu Foster in Collidescope
Aug 9, 2020

Sesshu Foster discusses ELADATL:

ELADATL was intended to be a collaborative project between a group of artists and writers in East L.A. But they all dropped out! Even before we got anything done! Have you ever tried asking people to write for you? I had this idea that I would collectivize my writing process and invite the community in. But I think most people consider writing to be a lot of unrewarding toil, and rightly so. Anyway, the last ones standing were me and artist Arturo Ernesto Romo, though I was able finally to include pieces by a few friends, too. Arturo and I drove all over East L.A. for years, researching little known events, histories erased by gentrification, local mysteries and personalities. Some of that made it into the website ELA Guide, "your guide to walking and driving tours of East L.A.," though some of it, like our proposed interviews with musician Ruben Guevara, the murals of East L.A., and a Chinese history of East L.A., never made it onto the website. Besides driving all over the Eastside and interviewing people, Arturo and I organized magazine-format panel presentations at universities and community centers that he called "Recent Rupture Radio Hour" where we interviewed activists such as Rosalio Munoz, leader of the Chicano Moratorium in 1970 when 30,000 people marched in East L.A. against the Vietnam War, artists like Iraqi-American Rheim Alkhadi and Sandra de la Loza ("The Pocho Research Society"), and urban farmer Reies Rodriguez, always a favorite for his accounts of growing (and butchering) your own chickens and livestock. When the Smithsonian asked me to send them a poem about Latino-Asian American collaboration, I sent them a video Arturo and I made while driving around East L.A. about Guy Gabaldon, a Chicano orphan raised by Japanese Americans in Boyle Heights in East L.A., who used his homegrown Japanese skills to capture 1,500 Japanese troops single-handedly during the Battle of Saipan in World War 2. The main difference between ELADATL and Atomik Aztex, then, is that collaboration, based on this research, these performances and community interventions that Arturo and I improvised and conducted, with the participation of others.

Arturo Ernesto Romo interviewed in the LA TIMES
Jul 23, 2020

Arturo Ernesto Romo, co-creator of ELADATL, reconceives of new monuments to reflect Los Angeles's people and history.  "The incident at Sleepy Lagoon is born from a series of interrelated events," says Romo, who, like De la Loza, also creates work that engages the history of Los Angeles (albeit in fictionalized ways). "To reduce an incident like that down to an individual thing, it doesn't do justice to the way that any human experiences and events play out.

Interview with Sesshu Foster on PoetryLA
Feb 23, 2020

Los Angeles Artists Reinvent Their Roles in Gentrifying Communities -- "The Prospect"
Jul 8, 2018

Poor and working-class neighborhoods often view new art galleries as heralds of gentrification—but some artists have joined with residents to fight displacements and other disruptions. . . . Lincoln Heights, which is also experiencing the vigorous redevelopment and displacement of gentrification, is where you'll find Arturo Romo. Instead of installing work in a gallery or museum or attending art fairs, the visual artist is part of an expansive, fluid, and overlapping network of artists in Los Angeles that are redefining art as they fight to keep neighborhoods from being overwhelmed by development. For Romo, making art in a community is akin to watering a garden. "It's a way to belong to a place, not to own it," he says.

Article by Carribean Fragoza

Sesshu Foster discusses Arturo Ernesto Romo work for SF MOMA's "Open Space"
Feb 18, 2018

With his focus and attention turned outward on the landscape, I attached Romo's skills as a collaborator on a novel, The East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines (A History with Appendices), the storyline in part consisting of videos, altered photographs, audio transmissions, digital media, and other material created by him and only sporadically accessible online or during public performances. . . .

One red thread throughout the multiple performances, personas, and manifestations of Romo's practice over the years has been Romo's intention to abjure personal publicity and the fetish of the individual artist as creator. His publications and performances take place behind a Pessoa-curtain of heteronyms, as he operates most frequently as a collaborator or behind the scenes, sometimes through the "offices" of the anti-gentrification collective, the Northeast Los Angeles Alliance, engaging in neighborhood agitprop, street theater, organizing educational events and demonstrations. Romo’s artistic practice functions in the community, in part, as a rhizomatic, subcutaneous nerve.

Essay by Sesshu Foster

below: Arturo Ernesto Romo, Wiggle Jade and Cypress, 2012.

Arturo Ernesto Romo, Wiggle Jade and Cypress, 2012.

Interview with Arturo Ernesto Romo on the "Opposable Thumbs" podcast
Aug 14, 2017

Artist and public school arts educator Arturo Romo is our guest this week! We discuss public education, the joys of collaboration and creating life stability. Arturo moves the bones to shuffle and stack colonialism and decolonization.

A Los Angeles poet's revolution of everyday life -- AL JAZEERA
Sep 6, 2015

The project currently on Foster's mind is a multimedia, quasi-fictional history of East LA, which he’s compiling with his friend, artist Arturo Ernesto Romo-Santillano. Their research includes a lot of driving, walking, looking and talking, and so in March the three of us drove to Boyle Heights and parked in view of the Sears tower, an Art Deco complex slated for mixed-use redevelopment. We’d come to see the murals on the Estrada Courts, a grid of two-story public housing. "The Chicano movement always had artists as cultural ambassadors," Foster said, gesturing at some their creations.

Article by E. Tammy Kim