Every few years Tia Chucha would visit the family in a tornado of song and open us up as if we were an overripe avocado. She was a dumpy, black-haired creature of upheaval who often came unannounced with a bag of presents, including homemade perfumes and colognes that smelled something like rotting fish on a hot day at the tuna cannery...Excerpt of Tia Chucha, Luis Rodriguez
I found Tia Chucha’s while making the rounds changing out artworks with Folk Art Everywhere. My compadre is Jedi, short for Jedidiah, a slight art handler from Texas with a bushy, all-white ponytail. After a few stops down in Leimart Park, we make the trek up through the valley, ending at Tia Chucha’s Cafe Cultural and Bookstore in Sylmar, with almost nothing north of us except for the hills.
The center was founded by author Luis Rodriguez, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., activist Maria Trinidad Rodriguez, and community leader Enrique Sanchez. Named after Luis’s favorite aunt, the center opened in 2001, and celebrates Chicano/a heritage while offering space and resources for creative and spiritual growth in the community. “Tia Chucha’s will be a positive and visionary force, to enhance what is decent, compassionate and just in our communities while reconnecting to our ancestral roots and teachings in the vortex of great social transitions and technological development.”
While Jedi did the hard work, I snapped pictures of this shrine to Tia Chucha, constructed around a colorfully painted chair in the corner. I was especially charmed by the extra white votives, ready and waiting.