MEDIA/PRESS CONTACT: Robin Wachner, Communications Department, OC Fair & Event Center, (714) 708-1543
OC Fair & Event Center Selects California Artists
Ricardo Mendoza & Josh Sarantitis to Design Agricultural Memorial
Costa Mesa, Calif. (October 24, 2013) – The OC Fair & Event Center (OCFEC) has selected California-based artistic duo Ricardo Mendoza and Josh Sarantitis to design and build a new Agricultural Workers Memorial on its 150-acre property in Costa Mesa, CA. The memorial, titled “Table of Dignity,” will honor the contributions of agricultural workers to the growth and prosperity of Orange County.
Mendoza is the first-generation son of a Mexican immigrant mother and grew up in Costa Mesa. His grandfather, who was on the Mexican Consul, worked directly with the United Farm Workers (UFW) Union President Cesar Chavez to protect the rights of migrant farm workers and their families. As the lead artist on the OCFEC project, Mendoza has had public art installations at the Monterey Park Library, Seily Rodriguez Memorial Park in Hollywood, Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy in Los Angeles and across the world in Spain, Saudi Arabia, Germany and France.
Sarantitis comes from a family of immigrant laborers who worked in the tobacco fields of Ybor City, Florida and on the docks of Oakland. Sarantitis also worked with Chavez and UFW in the early 1990s to educate students and organize farm labor campaigns. As the lead fabricator on the OCFEC project, Sarantitis collaborated with Mendoza on the MTA Firestone Blue Line Station piece “The Will to Progress” in Los Angeles in 2004 and collaborated with sculptor Alex Garza on the Cesar Chavez Overpass in Tucson, Arizona.
OCFEC collaborated with Arts Orange County, the county’s non-profit arts council, to commission a California-based artist or artistic team for the new memorial. Mendoza/Sarantitis’ winning design was selected from a pool of 49 applications, which was first narrowed to five by an independent panel of judges that included California State University of Fullerton’s Gallery Directory of the Begovich Gallery, Director of the Exhibition Design/Museum Studies Program and Associate Art Professor Mike McGee; the City of Laguna Beach’s Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl; and Tomas Benitez, Grant Manager of the Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts and Education in Los Angeles. After in-person presentations by each finalist, a selection committee of OCFEC staff and Board members Nick Berardino and Ashleigh Aitken selected Mendoza/Sarantitis’ proposal, which was then approved by the OCFEC Board at their June meeting.
The Agricultural Workers Memorial, approved by OCFEC’s Board of Directors last year, will be located on-site adjacent to the Millennium Barn in the Centennial Farm, a year-round working farm designed to educate about the rich agricultural history of Orange County and its importance to daily life. Mendoza/Sarantitis’ design includes a central sculptural table surrounded by a field of raked sand and a perimeter timber bench with large-scale entry portals made of rammed earth. An all-inclusive budget of up to $90,000 has been allocated for this project, which is expected to be completed by July 2014, in time for the 2014 OC Fair.
The OC Fair & Event Center is located off the 405 and 55 freeways at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. For more information, please visit ocfair.com, become a fan on Facebook.com/OCFair, follow us at twitter.com/ocfair or call (714) 708-1500.
About the OC Fair & Event Center As the 32nd District Agricultural Association of the State of California, the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, CA, is home to the annual OC Fair and year-round Centennial Farm and with 150 acres of diverse, flexible event space, it’s also host of a variety of events throughout the year for arts, crafts, cars, cultural celebrations, pets, collectibles and more. Every summer, the OC Fair offers 23 days of food, exhibits, rides, shopping, action sports, tribute bands and headline entertainment in the Pacific Amphitheatre. Throughout the year, the Centennial Farm offers free opportunities for locals to experience first-hand Orange County’s rich agricultural history. Visit ocfair.com for more details.
About Arts Orange County (ArtsOC) Arts Orange County is the leader in building appreciation of, participation in, and support for arts and arts education in Orange County. Founded in 1995 by Bonnie Brittain Hall and based in Santa Ana, ArtsOC is an independent nonprofit arts services organization that is the officially designated local arts agency and state-local partner of the County of Orange. In addition to offering free programs like the annual Imagination Celebration, a month-long festival of free and low-cost arts for families and children, and free services like SparkOC.com, Orange County’s comprehensive online arts and culture calendar, Arts Orange County also provides fee-based contracted services and consulting to local organizations. Visit artsoc.org for more details.
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Please do not forget that half of the farmworkers were Filipinos in their twilight years, led by Larry Itliong, whose centennial was celebrated last Friday. It was Itliong who recruited Chavez and the NFWA to form the UFW. Without Itliong there would be no Chavez:
Despite Filipinos leading the strike and grape boycotts that paved the way for better working conditions and wages, many, including former staff of Chavez believe the history books unjustly omitted the names of the Filipinos.
“The ignorance is mostly to blame of the people who were in the leadership back then and Chavez himself for not explaining this to people,” explained Al Rojas who worked with Itliong and eventually worked as Chavez’ secretary.