Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Art instructor Hagop Najarian tuned in to the nightly news and was amazed to spot a familiar face.

“My wife said, ‘hey, that looks like one of your students,'” Najarian recalls.

Standing outside of Bell City Hall on the morning of July 21 was computer animation major Galileo Gonzalez, with a poster of a demonized caricature of former Mayor Oscar Hernandez.

The image of the scowling Salvadoran-American gripping the sides of a poster board and raising the drawing over his head was powerful enough to catch the eye of a photographer on scene that day for The Los Angeles Times.

 “Later, I saw [footage] played back and he was standing there with his poster art—I think he used a picture on his Facebook profile—but I saw it and I said, ‘Oh, son of a gun, there he is!'”

Armed with permanent markers and a couple sheets of poster board, Gonzalez set off on a mission.

The objective: to humiliate Bell city council members involved in a tax-dollar-embezzlement scheme, and spread the word of the injustice that claimed Gonzalez and his family as casualties, when they were forced to move away from his home town due to rising property taxes.

Gonzalez’ first poster featured a large, black-and-white, horned image of Hernandez holding a sack of money and asking, “How do you think I remodeled my store?”

 “It was a reference because he actually did remodel his (grocery) store—like, big time—and added a taco stand. Seriously, he did add a taco stand,” Gonzalez says, raising his eyebrows.

Upon arriving to the protest with his poster, Gonzalez was approached by other participants requesting he draw similar caricatures on their signs. 

Fueled by anger toward the accused and empathy toward their victims, Gonzalez set to work on the grassy lawn.

“People actually bought me sharpies and some poster paper, so I drew a few little quick caricatures and then a few slogans here and there.”

Gonzalez’ drawings not only struck a nerve, but also set a trend.

“There were a few people with just posters with newspapers with newspaper clippings; I was the only one with a poster of a caricature—the only one—and apparently people really liked it, so when I went to the next council meeting, there were just all these posters, all these caricatures of [city council members] all over the place, so I guess you could say that I was the first one that came up with drawing them on posters.”

Although he dedicates less than an hour to pen his satirical creations, Gonzalez refuses to make time to sign any of them, saying he is not out to make a name for himself during a protest, but to join the crowd in making a statement.

“When you realized that your city council actually betrayed you and forced you to basically move, the last thing you think about when drawing these posters is signing them.

“I’m not there trying to put my name out, I’m just there to protest—I’m there because I’m pissed.”

Although Gonzalez considers his posters “crappy, last-minute things” with a “sketchy, dirty and grimy” style, his instructor and classmates disagree.

“He’s done the wordplay with direct hits.  It’s exciting to see him make political posters; they’re effective because he’s got a very focused idea,” Najarian said.

Art major Edson Martinez says Gonzalez style is what makes the caricatures bold.

“He’s straight up raw with his work.”

The self-proclaimed progressive leftist will continue to incorporate his political ideas in to his work, but claims he will never be comfortable in the limelight of political infamy.

Gonzalez shakes his head, “I’m not a protest person.  I’m not an extremist of a person—I don’t like radicals.”

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Rebeca Vega, Staff Writer
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