As we were sitting in Victor Ochoa’s studio garage in Golden Hill the other day, I realized that even though we’d been friends since the late 1970’s, I didn’t know a whole lot about his earlier life before those heady days of the Seventies decade. I was wondering whether he remembered that I had helped arrange for him to be hired to paint murals at the Che Cafe up at UCSD – way back in in 1980 and 81. He did but he had a few different details.
“This is my favorite garage,” Victor said, as we settled in for our talk. Surrounding us on three sides inside the garage were painting materials and large plastic bins holding more painting stuff stacked up on shelves, brushes, cans of paint piled on each other, cans of spray paint in a shallow closest. There was a gas-powered airbrush machine that looked like a cross between a lawn mower and a Mars Rover.
In one corner, he had set up a type of shrine to his past, his family, his culture, with various memorabilia of his life. On another wall were posters of Pancho Villa and of more recent Chicano heroes, like Corky Gonzalez, and local activist Marco Anguiano. And along part of one of the walls were the books, the notebooks, the 3-ring binders, paper records, the manuscripts, the slides.