C.A.S.A .Zamora


Based at Zamora Park, C.A.S.A. (Cultura, Archivo, Solidaridad, Acción) Zamora, houses a a digital and physical archive, community library and workspace, artists in residence, youth art classes, and cultural events. Below is a list of our residents and crew.

Carribean Fragoza and Romeo Guzman, Co-directors

Anthony Solorzano, Popular Educators in Residence

Ellie Virrueta, Popular Educators in Residence

Sam Brown/Avocado Heights Vaquer@s, Grassroots Activist in Residence

Steve Valenzuela, Writer in Residence

Erika Garcia, Arts Educator in Residence

Isabel Pan, Artist in Residence

Myles Mikulic, Community Archivist in Residence

Sesshu Foster, Poet of the Universe

Pedro Mariano González, Community Librarian and Archivist in Residence

Valeria Mena, Gardener

Phung Huynh, Mentor for Artist-In-Residence


Carribean Fragoza is the founder and co-director of South El Monte Arts Posse, an interdisciplinary arts collective. Raised in South el Monte, she is a fiction and nonfiction writer. Her collection of stories Eat the Mouth That Feeds You was published in 2021 by City Lights and was a finalist for a 2022 PEN Award. Her co-edited compilation of essays, East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte was published by Rutgers University Press and her collection of essays Writing Home: New Terrains of California is forthcoming with Angel City Press. She has published in Harper's Bazaar, The New York Times, Zyzzyva, Alta, BOMB, Huizache, KCET, the Los Angeles Review of Books, ArtNews, and Aperture Magazine. She is the Prose Editor at Huizache Magazine. Fragoza is 2023 Whiting Literary Award recipient and Creative Writing faculty at California Institute of the Arts.


Born in Goleta and raised in Pomona, California, Romeo Guzmán family has roots in Guadalajara and Zacatecas. His mother’s family arrived to South El Monte in the 1970s. Since 2011, he has co-directed the South El Monte Arts Posse. Together with Carribean Fragoza and the SEMAP crew, he has worked with community members to write and share the radical history of South El Monte and El Monte. From 2016 to 2020 he worked at Fresno State, where he build public history projects on futbol and hip-hop. His public history projects in the San Gabriel Valley and the Central Valley (CA) seek to radically alter how marginalized communities experience and participate in the production of knowledge. He is the co-editor of East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte (Rutgers Press, 2020) and Writing the Golden State: The New Literary Terrain of California (Angel City Press, 2024). He has published in academic and public-facing outlets such as the Journal of American History, The History of the Family, Boom, KCET, and Tropics of Meta. He is the author of the chapbook Pocho Blues and is an assistant professor in history and public history at Claremont Graduate University.

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Anthony Solorzano is an independent filmmaker whose debut film, "Varsity Punks" was a homegrown project shot in El Monte, CA. Recently, he has expanded his visual storytelling skills by directing music videos, commercials, and short documentaries. His style likes to push on cultural boundaries by celebrating the underrepresented subcultures of society, especially of those where he grew up -- the San Gabriel Valley.

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Ellie Virrueta is a community organizer and artist based out of the San Gabriel Valley. She began her work as an artist in 2002 and initially used art as a healthy avenue to cope with the challenges she experienced as an undocumented youth. Ellie's evolution as an artist and organizer allowed her to merge both her passions. She continues to use her artwork as a wellness tool, but also utilizes it to highlight the social injustices and oppressions that marginalized communities face.


Sam Vazquez is a local organizer raised in the east San Gabriel Valley who advocates on issues relating to environmental justice and land use planning. He helped spearhead efforts to build civilian oversight and accountability in the local school district where civil rights concerns were not being addressed. Currently, he works with various community partners to improve environmental health outcomes within the region. For fun, he enjoys photography, charreadas and norteño music. 

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Steve “Exmal” Valenzuela is a poet/educator from the City of El Monte. His work has been published in Burn the Wagon, Voz, and Dryland. He is the director and co-founder of the K.E.E.P.E.R.S. Poetry Club at Bravo High School where he continues to encourage students to use their voices as a source of empowerment and healing for themselves and their communities. He is also a co-founder of One Mic Collective, a grassroots organization that hosted open mic gatherings in Baldwin Park and El Monte.

Steve’s love of poetry is rooted in his love of hip-hop and hard rock; two forms of expression that continue to mold his perspective and sense of self. After graduating high school, Steve attended UCSC, where he joined Rainbow Theater and soon realized that he had a desire to write and perform. Since then, he has had the honor of sharing his poetry at numerous beautiful spaces such as Sunday Jump,  the Nuyorican Poets Café,  the Eastside Café, and Alivio, to name a few. He hopes to continue using poetry to share his story and to inspire others to do the same.

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Erika Garcia is an Arts and Museum Educator and Art Historian who was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. Her teaching praxis focuses on culturally responsive pedagogy through curriculum that emphasizes themes such as identity, social justice, and communal and familial history. She received her BA and MA in Art with a focus in Art History from California State University, Los Angeles and is currently completing the Single Subject Teaching Credential in Art from California State University, Long Beach. In her free time, Erika enjoys film photography, experimenting in multimedia arts, and bike riding through Monte.  


Isabel Alexandra Saenz Pan is a sophomore at Pitzer College with an interest in American Studies. Born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley, El Monte holds a special place in her and her's family memory. A daughter of immigrants, her art often discusses themes of the intersectionality between mixed ethnicity/nationality and conceptualized ideals of American identity.


Myles Mikulic is PhD Candidate in history at Claremont Graduate University. He has worked in various institutions archival and library institutions, including the Huntington Library and the Claremont Colleges Library. With Prof. Romeo Guzmán, he has worked on SEMAP's East of East project in various capacities, including conducting oral histories, working with high school educators on curriculum, scanning and digitizing photographs and other primary sources, and building SEMAP's Omeka website.

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Sesshu Foster taught composition and literature in East L.A. for over 30 years, and creative writing at the University of Iowa, the California Institute for the Arts, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa, Pomona College and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work is published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry, Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond, and State of the Union: 50 Political Poems. His most recent books are City of the Future, poetry; World Ball Notebook, poetry; and ELADATL: a History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport, a novel co-written with Arturo Romo.

A celebrated writer, his literary awards are numerous: Sesshu was awarded the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award in Poetry for World Ball Notebook; the Believer Book Award for Atomik Aztex; an American Book Award for Invocation LA: Urban Multicultural Poetry; and finalist for the PEN Center West Poetry Prize, as well as the Paterson Poetry Prize, for City Terrace Field Manual. Sesshu is based in Alhambra, CA.

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Pedro Mariano González was born in El Monte and raised in Covina. His parents migrated from the Mexican states of Nayarit and Quintana Roo, and arrived in El Monte where they lived throughout the 90s. Pedro grew up playing fútbol in the local Baldwin Park, El Monte, and Covina leagues. He began his college career at Mt. San Antonio College where he became a vigorous member of Mecha. At Mt. SAC, he helped organize the campaign for the institutionalization of a Latine cultural resource center and support program, successfully named El Centro. As a proud transfer student, he completed his BA in Chicana/o & Central American Studies at UCLA. Pedro looks forward to pursuing graduate school in the field of History to contribute to the cultural and knowledge production of his community. He currently resides in Rosemead where he enjoys reading, drinking coffee, and watching fútbol on early weekend mornings.


Valeria Mena was born and raised in Huntington Park, with familial connections to Fresno and the Central Valley. As an undergraduate student at UC Santa Cruz, they helped organize Central Valley Freedom Summer, a series of conferences that supported youth of color in fostering community organizing skills and political consciousness; this involvement led to a wide array of student activism. She also worked at UCSC's farm and learned about small-scale organic agricultural production, which fueled her passion in liberation and health equity. Valeria looks forward to supporting El Monte and SGV communities with sharing her experience for people's gardening, critical sustainability, and fostering skills for communities to steward their own green spaces and ecological consciousness. Lately, she is working on her collection of poems, and taking digital art and music classes.


Phung Huynh is a Los Angeles-based artist and educator with a practice in drawing, painting, public art, and community engagement. Informed by her experience as a refugee, Huynh’s projects explore the complexities of displacement, assimilation, and cultural negotiation among Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees who have resettled in the United States. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and has completed public art commissions throughout Los Angeles County, including a permanent, large-scale metal sculpture that recognizes the dark history of forced sterilizations of 240 Mexican immigrant mothers at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center between 1968 – 1974. Huynh has served as Chair of the Public Art Commission for the city of South Pasadena and Chair of the Prison Arts Collective Advisory Council, which supports arts programming in California state prisons. Huynh received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University. She is a recipient of the City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship, the California Arts Council Individual Established Artist Fellowship, and the California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship. Phung Huynh is Assistant Professor of Art at California State University Los Angeles, and she is represented by Luis De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles.

C.A.S.A .Zamora