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May 27, 2017

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Pioneering Chicano artist Emigdio Vasquez dies in California aged 75

LOS ANGELES -- Emigdio Vasquez, whose bold use of color, exacting brush skills and uncanny ability to capture everyday people in dramatic moments made him one of the most influential pioneers of the Chicano art movement, has died in California. He was 75.

The artist, who had been in declining health, died Saturday in an assisted living home in Newport Beach, his family said Wednesday. The cause was pneumonia.

Incredibly prodigious, Vasquez created more than 400 paintings and nearly two dozen murals. Many of the latter dot buildings throughout Orange County, where he lived most of his life.

Arguably his most famous work, "Legacy of Cesar Chavez," graces the lobby of the computer center at Santa Ana College, where Vasquez once studied art and later taught the subject. It shows the labor leader surrounded by everyday people at a United Farm Workers event.

"I consider my art to be a part of the experience of the working class," Vasquez once said. "The daily lives of people in the barrio are documented in my work."

Indeed, that was reflected in such works as "Onion Peddler," "El Wino" and "Downtown Intellectual," as well as still others of Zoot-suited Chicano youth and of children playing in the modest yards of their homes.

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