John Valadez is widely considered the most significant artist to have developed a realist pictorial language portraying the Chicano experience in Los Angeles during the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. His work has come to define the iconography of Chicano identity of the period, situating it within the changing dynamics of the city rather than nostalgically attempting to reconstruct a mythical and distant past.
His style is derived from street photography as he records the life of his community and of other inhabitants of downtown Los Angeles. Yet, his interest in the documentary photographic tradition is also closely related to the use of this genre by experimental L.A. artists who, since the 1960s when portable cameras became ubiquitous, have directed their lenses toward artistic ends.
Valadez turned the ordinary snapshot into a source for his portrayal of a large, diverse cast of urban inhabitants drawn from his everyday life. Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Valadez began as a muralist, in which he presented themes of invisible borders and histories binding together Spanish, Mexican, and American culture.