As one of the few nonprofit regional conservation centers in the United States, and the only such center in the western region, the Balboa Art Conservation Center is undergoing transformational change as it shifts into a radically inclusive and accessible art conservation organization. The BACC Board helps nourish this shift while ensuring the organization's vision for inclusion has long-term systemic impact.
The BACC Board of Trustees is led by Board President Dana Springs and boasts a board membership that is 50% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). In addition to its racial diversity, BACC board members are located throughout BACC’s service area, including Seattle, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. They bring a range and depth of expertise in community organizing, arts management and advocacy, fundraising, conservation, education, and financial management. Their diverse perspectives and skills are essential as BACC seeks to fulfill its vision for equity and healing within our own structure and workplace, as well as the communities we serve.
Throughout 2023, we are highlighting each of our Board Members to better understand what excites them about being a part of the BACC Team at this transformative time.
Joel Garcia (he/him) is a Huichol, Indigenous artist, cultural organizer, and educator who uses Indigenous-based frameworks to center those most impacted, and arts-based strategies such as printmaking, installations, creative action, and altar-making to raise awareness of issues facing underserved communities, youth, and other targeted populations. In various roles, he has worked with Indigenous communities across borders in support of issues of land, access, and self-determination. His work explores healing and reconciliation, as well as memory and place. He previously served as Co-Director at Self Help Graphics & Art (‘10-’18) and is the co-founder and current director of Meztli Projects, an Indigenous-based arts and culture collaborative centering indigeneity into the creative practice of Los Angeles.
He’s a current Stanton Fellow and former fellow of the Goethe-Institut, Monument Lab, and the Intercultural Leadership Institute as well as a former artist-in-residence at OXY ARTS and AIR (Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator).
BACC: How does your professional, community, and/or cultural work inform your role as a BACC Board Member?
Joel: As an arts administrator and arts advocate a significant part of my contribution to the field has been the dismantling of systems that other and exclude artists and organizations that have been negatively impacted by colonization. At times this has meant imagining new ways of doing things and expanding the definitions of frameworks to broaden inclusivity while simultaneously focusing on those most impacted by our decisions. To me, this means that systems and systems building should be adaptive and informed by the most marginalized. This approach led me to co-found Meztli Projects which proposes new approaches centered on the values of Indigenous Peoples. We have proven that these approaches work and have informed the innovation of youth development in Los Angeles County as well as increased support for Native and Indigenous artists and cultural workers helping raise the visibility of First Peoples to the extent that policy changes have occurred by some of the creative action impulsed by this work.
Most importantly creating new ways to bridge understandings between peoples with a variety of orientations to place has been some of my most successful work. For example, the concept of cultural stewardship is really important to me, and the recently launched exhibition at OXY ARTS The Iridescence of Knowing which I co-curated with Mercedes Dorame is both a form of Land Acknowledgment and also another way to connect settler societies with First Peoples.
A white-dominated worldview measures what cultural items, works, etc. are valued, and as institutions make attempts to decolonize or in some instances indigenize, these new ways, approaches and processes and those who can imagine them will lead the way.
I feel this experience can support BACC in the forward-thinking work it is doing.
B: What excites you most about being on the BACC Board?
J: The arts and culture field is in a unique position to use its creative potential to infuse our society with new ideas, processes, and ways of being that it sorely needs right now. To me, imagining new systems and pulling together the resources to pilot, reflect, adjust, and repeat until we get it right is important.
In my experience, Boards can disproportionately focus on the “organization” and overlook staff. For me, there’s an opportunity here to balance this and contribute to the development of care systems that can nurture an ecosystem of support for the people who steward the mission of BACC.
B: If you could have one artwork or artifact (personal or otherwise) conserved by the BACC team, what would it be and why?
J: I would say the murals of Paul Botello. He is the brother of David Botello of the East Los Streetscapers along with Wayne Healy and to my understanding was a member for a short time. Paul is one of those artists who 20 years later is going back to murals to care for them, repair them and ensure that the connection to the community is ever present. And he does this out of pocket. And that’s a shame for a city and county like Los Angeles to spend more money on graffiti abatement than on mural preservation and or creation.