Browse Exhibits (6 total)

Women’s History of Greater El Monte


This tour will reflect on women’s history in Greater El Monte through individuals such as the 1785 Spanish revolt leader Toypurina, Rose Rivas who created the iconic gay bar the Sugar Shack, the activists Olga Gutierrez and Gloria Arellanes, and the story of Guadalupe González as she navigated Immigration and Naturalization Services raids as an undocumented immigrant before the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. It concludes by looking at current grassroots immigrants feminist practices.

Asian American Experience in Greater El Monte


As children of migrants and grandchildren of Braceros, the omission of Mexicans as well as our Asian classmates and neighbors from El Monte's official pioneer narrative stood in stark contrast to our experiences growing up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, to watching generations of people of color do the back-breaking labor to build these towns. It stood in contrast to the art, culture, and affirmation that emanated from places like East Los Angeles as well as from the stories we read in countless books that we devoured as high school students and eventually as undergraduates. Where, we wondered, were all our friends nd neighbors?

Despite El Monte and South El Monte's status as a majority-minority city and the more than hundred year presence of Asian Americans in Greater El Monte, there continues to be a lack of public art, monuments, and scholarship dedicated to this history. 

This bike ride seeks to set the record straight and to celebrate the rich contribution of Asian American migrants, refugees, artists, and poets. We will start with a broad overview of the history of Asian-Americans in the United States, then explore Japanese-Americans in El Monte, the arrival of refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia, and forced labor and slavery.

After the bike ride, we will gather at Matilija lending library to explore how Asian Americans and Mexicans writers are imagining their place in Grater El Monte, a majority-minority city. Wendy Cheng will moderate a poetry reading that includes Amy Wong, Christine Tran, and Steve Valenzuela.

Lastly, with the "Collective Shade" poetry exercise we invite community members to push back against El Monte's pioneer narrative. 


[We will distribute broadsheets and Adelita stickers; as supplies last]

Youth, Art, and Popular Culture


On November 6th, 2021 we will visit the sites of murals both lost and newly created, past punk house shows, the beloved Golfland, public theater performances, and Legion Stadium. While these stops are diverse in nature, they are united as landmarks in the history of youth culture in greater El Monte. Each site has served a place of empowerment through the arts where young people assert their identities and independence through self-expression, community-building, and rebellion. Most of these sites have been significantly altered or even destroyed completely, but their stories live on in the archive. Drawing upon oral histories, personal photographs, newspaper clippings, and rare 16mm film, this tour integrates and recenters the visual and cultural public histories of Greater El Monte.

In this exhibit, you'll find archival material related to each stop. If you were not able to attend the actual bike ride and would like the exact addresses, bike route, and digital map designed by Daniel Gonzalez, please email us at 

If you are part of a group that would like to schedule a bike tour, please contact Dr. Romeo Guzmán. SEMAP events are always free.

Recovering and Integrating Greater El Monte’s Lost Histories: East of East Lesson Plans

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In 2012, SEMAP used the city’s centennial as an opportunity to encourage new approaches to understanding and conveying the reality of Greater El Monte’s past and present. We launched what would become a multi-year public history and place-making project titled “East of East: Mapping Community Narratives in South El Monte and El Monte” to uncover, organize, and publicize Greater El Monte’s multi-ethnic history.

This was an ambitious and collaborative project and our first event was a community conference at South El Monte High School. Co-organized with Sara Quezada and La Casa de El Hijo del Ahuizote, community members learned about El Monte and South El Monte activists past, the role of art in documenting the past and imagining the future, and had the opportunity to contribute stories and photographs to our archive in order to construct a new history of El Monte and South El Monte.

In the last decade, SEMAP authors and collaborators visited high school classrooms in El Monte and South El Monte. This past year (2021-22), SEMAP returned to the classroom. We organized bi-weekly meetings with Ethnic Studies teachers to read and integreate East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte and the East of East archive into the curriculum; in ways that they determined made the most sense for their students and classes. We also shared space and thought about pedagogy, scholarship, and the role of Ethnic Studies in our communities. As part of that work, teachers build lesson plans. A few of those lesson plans are on here. In addition, students and teachers can find primary sources (photographs and oral histories) in both exbits and collections throughout this website. For example, after reading about Legion Stadium, students can listen to an oral history clip with Art Laboe or see newspaper excerpts documented El Monte City and EMPD oppossition to Legion Stadium. We encourage folks to dig in.

We'll continue to publish lessons plans and work with educators this coming year. When appropriate, we've noted the author of the lesson plan. To learn more, get in touch.

Monte, A-Z Biographies: A Response to the WPA

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If we all agree that a lie is a lie, is that enough to replace it with the truth? If the people who started this lie are no longer here, why does it linger? Where does it get its strength? What do we need to defeat it? 

 For at least the last one-hundred years, the city of El Monte has proudly claimed to be the “End of the Santa Fe Trail” and centered its entire history around this founding myth.  With this lie, El Monte officials sought to connect El Monte to Westward Expansion after the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, firmly lodge the city within the U.S. nation-state, and cut off anything or anyone that came before (or after) the first American families in El Monte in the 19th century. 

 For the Los Angles Public Libraries’ exhibit Something in Common—and as part of our on-going work—the South El Monte Arts Posse took close look at how this lie was supported and bolstered during the Great Depression of the 1930. As Mexicans were being coerced or forced out of the country, President Roosevelt’s Workers Progress Administration worked with El Monte City to produce El Monte: From the Pioneer days History and Biographical Sketches and built a community center and library, which would eventually become the El Monte Historical Society.

To help defeat this lie we’ve invited scholars to use our SEMAP book and archive to begin writing a new book of biographies. Here, you’ll find an introduction that situates and explains how the federal government used the WPA to foster El Monte’s pioneer narrative and myth and the values, goals, and ethos that guides our work. We also invited artists and community members to write, draw, and paint over the WPA-produced poem “To our Pioneers,” which opens El Monte: From the Pioneer days History and Biographical Sketches. Lastly, with input from community members and Tongva Elder Gloria Arellanes, Daniel González produced a seal for the people of El Monte who identity with its radical past. This, along with other responses to the pioneer narrative will be on display at the Los Angeles Public Library from May 7th to November, 2022.

Zamora Art House


In Septemeber of 2023, the South El Monte Arts Posse moved into the Zamora Art House at Zamora Park, in El Monte. With a group of El Monte/South El Monte artists, educators, and activists, SEMAP seeks to house an archive, offer art classes to youth and adults, hosts events, and provide a space for artists and activists to work. 

This exhibit provides a brief history of Zamora Art Center (Zamora Art House) and Zamora Park, lists C.A.S.A. Zamora residents, and upcoming events. This exhibit is on-going and will also include C.A.S.A Zamora projects, such as Zamora Park Portraits. Come back often. Get in touch if you have any questions: