SAN PEDRO, CA — These are the final strokes for what has been an epic journey for Eliseo Silva, who’s helped preserve and promote Filipino American history through his murals.
Silva recently hosted his last art show at the Pinta Dos gallery in San Pedro, California as he begins his journey to create seven more murals throughout the US, leaving one last mark before he goes back to the Philippines for good.
The exhibit called ‘Recuerdos or Souvenirs’ will remain open until February.
“It’s kind of my return to painting but also my goodbye to gallery solo exhibits because next year I’m going to be focusing on murals before I leave so this kind of like my souvenir to my 30 years, after my 30 years in the US as an artist,” he said.
From Historic Filipinotown to Pennsylvania, and in-between, Silva has been the artist behind many murals that have become landmarks in Filipino communities.
“The murals became kind of like necessary to tell our story, because before I can actually paint we had to have a story as I see it when I went to art school, they have no idea what Filipino painting is I had to tell them what at first I had to tell them what Filipino story is.”
Silva never intended to have a 30-year career in the US, but while he was a student, he said he felt divine intervention while creating his first mural in Los Angeles.
“My whole body shook when I first put a brushstroke on the wall, it was probably Larry Itliong telling me you have to tell my story, because I felt compelled to stay so I changed my mind, after I went through the process of several murals, I thought I was going back after my masters here, my MFA, I realized I need to do a mural in the east coast, unlike the one in LA, this one took me 12 years.”
And his life has come full circle.
Before Silva packs up, his final mural’s subject will be on Larry Itliong, who rose to national prominence in the 1960s as a labor organizer. The site for Silva’s farewell piece — Delano, California — where the Filipino union leader succeeded to fight for workers’ rights.