YEPES FAMILY HISTORY 1880 – 2013

Maria Eugenia Yepes de Loretto with Jose Jorge Yepes, first Birthday, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
Maria Eugenia Yepes de Loretto with Jose Jorge Yepes, first Birthday, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
Salavador Duenas Yepes visiting Jacona, Michuacan, Mexico.
Salavador Duenas Yepes visiting Jacona, Michuacan, Mexico.
Serafin Duenas Yepes (Uncle); Concepcion Duenas Yepes (Grandfather), and Salvador Duenas Yepes (George Yepes' Father)
Serafin Duenas Yepes (Uncle); Concepcion Duenas Yepes (Grandfather), and Salvador Duenas Yepes (George Yepes' Father)

YEPES FAMILY HISTORY 1880 – 2013
 
 
1880's - Concepcion Yepes and Antonia Duenas - Jacona, Michoacan, Mexico.  (George Yepes’ paternal Great Grandparents)
 
1880's - Alegundo Loreto and Concepcion Santana Mojica -  Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.  (George Yepes’ paternal Great Grandparents)
 
1880's - Nicanor Rico and Virginia Garcia -  Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.  (George Yepes’ maternal Great Grandparents)
 
1902 - Jose Mojica Loreto - Born in Autlan,  Died on September 10, 1954 in Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.  (George Yepes’ maternal Grandfather)
 
1904 – Josefa Rico  (George Yepes’ maternal Grandmother) was born on March 28, 1904 in Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.
 
1918 – Salvador Duenas Yepes (George Yepes' father) was born on December 6, 1918 in Jacona, Michoacan, Mexico.
1924 - Maria Eugenia Loreto (George Yepes' Mother was born on July 18, 1924 in Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.
 
1910's - Lupe Duenas Yepes; Serafin Duenas Yepes; Pedro Duenas Yepes; and Salvador Duenas Yepes - Jacona, Michoacan, Mexico.
 
1920's - Micaela Santos - Children:  Maria Luisa Santos Loreto; Vidal Santos Loreto; and Antonio Santos Loreto - Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.
 
1930's - Adrian Santana; Jose Santana; Lourdes Santana; Lidubina Santana; and Maria Luisa Santana - Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico.

In 1926 Concepcion Yepes (George Yepes’ Grandfather), moved his family (including his yougest son, Salvador Duenas Yepes), from Jacona, Michoacan and migrated north. The family crossed into Laredo, Texas. The eight year old, Salvador would later recall - "the coldest night of my life was in Laredo, where our family almost froze as we slept outdoors waiting for our first day in the U.S."

 

1927- Concepcion would volunteer for any work available as the trains came by which kept the family moving north across Texas all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska. In Lincoln, Concepcion worked a field that included a small shack for his family to live in, and a cow, for the family to survive on the milk. He soon realized that he was being charged for all of the living expenses and that he would never be able to un-indenture his family from the debt. Conception decided that their only hope was for him to travel north in search of better work. He left his wife and their three small children working the field in Nebraska. He secured a job at the Wilson Foundry in Pontiac, Michigan making engine blocks for General Motors. He returned to Nebraska in an automoble and moved his wife and children to Pontiac.

 

Salvador began 3rd Grade in Pontiac and learned English, he recalled he and his older brother having to defend themselves at school because they wore their pants "estilo Michoacan". In 1929, when the Great Depression hit the United States, Conception packed up his family and they all returned to Mexico. For the next 3 years, the eleven year old Salvador worked a team of mules plowing the family farm. His foreman was his older brother. 

 

Suffering from an ailing heart since Pontiac, Salvador’s mother, Antonia, died of a heart attack in Jacona. Soon after, Concepcion abandoned the three children. Salvador’s older sister ,Lupe, quickly married an older man in an attempt to keep her younger brothers at home. In Jacona, it was ‘un-manly’ to do laundry, therefore, since the death of his mother, Salvador would wash his clothes in the river at night. 

 

Once a month a large cargo truck from Mexico City would arrive in Jacona bringing supplies and returning with merchandise. On one of those visits, the cargo truck got stuck in a ditch outside of town. The 14 year old Salvador was located to solve the problem. He unloaded the truck; pulled it back onto the road; and re-loaded it. The driver stated, "workers like you are needed in Mexico City". Salvador responded, "next month when you arrive, I’ll go back with you." The following month, Salvador, with "tres Centavos" (3 pennies) in his pocket, left Jacona at age 14 and headed for Mexico City. He learned the trade of a marble and tile setter. Maria Eugenia Loreto Rico, (George Yepes' mother), was born on July 18, 1924 in Autlan de la Grana, Jalisco, Mexico. The love child of Jose Loreto and Josefa Rico Garcia, Eugenia enters the world amid scandal, strife, and bitterness. 

 

Jose Loreto, was an established and well-respected mechanic, and Josefa Rico Garcia (later Villafana), was a 19 year old girl from one of the poorest families in Autlan. Josefa attempted but failed to abort the infant prior to her birth. 

Josefa resented the fact that Jose’s family disapproved of her, and that they had pressured Jose to end the relationship. Josefa decided to give Eugenia to one of her older sisters, Juana. Juana lovingly accepted Eugenia and took the child to live with her in Guadalajara, where Eugenia would spend some of the happiest years of her life. Eugenia lived with her "Mama Juanita" until the age of seven, then Josefa reclaimed her. Josefa removed Eugenia from school so she could cook, clean, and take care of her newborn sister Teresa, while Josefa worked at a local ice cream shop in Autlan. Not having had the opportunity for a formal education, Eugenia taught herself to read and write.

 

A kind, loving father until his accidental death in 1957, Jose never denied or forsaked Eugenia. On the contrary, he asked Josefa for her hand in marriage many times, but Josefa refused. Josefa felt insulted since, in her perception, Jose wanted to marry her to legalize their union, rather than to affirm their love before his family and the town. Eventually, Jose married another woman in town, Micaela. In one event, after a severe beating by Josefa, Eugenia ran to Jose’s place of work, Jose took her to his home and tried to convince Micaela to accept the child into their home. Micaela responded, "take that ‘bastardita’ out of my home". Eugenia over heard everything, and those words would haunt her to her deathbed. Jose returned Eugenia to Josefa’s house and left her outside the front door. Mama Juanita found Eugenia outside crying on the curb, and took her back to Guadalajara with her. Jose and Micaela eventually had six children. Among them was Antonio Jose Loreto, Eugenia’s favorite brother and secret playmate. Josefa forbade that Eugenia have any contact with Antonio, but Eugenia fostered their relationship nevertheless. Although it would cost her "many beatings," as Eugenia would later tell the story, she continued to have close contact with Antonio despite her mother’s wishes. The two remained close, loving siblings until Eugenia left Autlan.

 

1931—1939: Eugenia spent her childhood moving from her mother’s house to her Mama Juanita’s home, as Josefa continued to vent her anger on the young girl, reflecting her bitter disappointment at the failed relationship with Jose. Josefa’s older sisters repeatedly chided Josefa for her unfair treatment of the child, and Juana regularly visited Autlan to protect and remove Eugenia from her home as needed. Yet—despite the inconstancy in her home—Eugenia enjoyed a relatively carefree life on Mama Juanita’s ranch. Juana has several sons, and they enjoyed the company of the young Eugenia who was quite agile and strong for her age. At eleven, Eugenia learned to ride bareback on Juana’s ranch, and her male cousins would hoot and holler as they would watch her climb the hearty trees so she could lunge and land on the horse her cousins had sent her way. They called her "Don Quixote," and Eugenia proudly accepted the nickname. From her cousins, Eugenia also learned to wrestle down the fattened hogs on the ranch. At slaughter time, she also assisted her Mama Juana and Josefa at the task of holding down the hogs. By slaughtering hogs and selling their meat, raising gamecocks for the local gamers, and working full-time at either the ice cream shop or the local diner, Josefa earned a decent living for herself and her daughters. But her admirable ability to be economically independent went unrecognized, as her family and the town increasingly viewed her as a wanton woman who openly defied society and the church. By then, three or four men, had been in Josefa’s life, and the town found the behavior inexcusable. 

 

1940—At 36, Josefa found herself single and with two daughters from two separate fathers. The people of Autlan made life a living hell for her, with the town’s bile spilling over upon her daughters as well. Tired of hearing the cruel talk, and of having her daughters humiliated and berated in public, Josefa decided to head north, where she would have the opportunity to reinvent herself and leave behind her checkered life. At 16, Eugenia migrated to Tijuana, Baja California with her mother and half-sister, Teresa (age 9). They took up residence at Dona Chonita’s Boarding House, the same boarding house where Eugenia would later meet Salvador Yepes Duenas.

 

1942-1945, World War II was in full force, and the Bracero (Guest Worker) Program brought many Mexican laborers into the United States to keep the economy moving. A Mexico City marble and tile setter by trade, and a nomad by nature, the 24 year old Salvador embarked on a 50-year - Marble & Tile Setters Union career - in the United States. By following the construction jobs that abounded between Las Vegas, San Francisco, and the border with Mexico, Salvador was able to quench the deep restlessness that had possessed him at age 14, upon the sudden death of his mother, and the abandonment by his father.

 

Two other Mexican compatriots, Eugenia and her mother Josefa, obtained U.S. visas and worked weekdays in the canneries of Monterey, California. Being younger and stronger than her mother, Eugenia distinguished herself on cannery row by packing and sealing her quota of boxes and then helping her mother to complete her own quota. On the weekends they would ride the bus 500 miles back to Mexico. Eugenia and her mother traveled back and forth from Monterey to Tijuana and Guadalajara to visit, live, work, and for Eugenia to finish school. On one of those trips, Eugenia again spent time with her Mama Juanita. That would be the last time that Eugenia would live temporarily with Juana, as Josefa reclaimed her permanently and began to plan Eugenia’s future: Josefa had failed to marry a distinguished man, but Eugenia would not make the same mistake. Josefa would make sure that her daughter married well. Smart and pretty, Eugenia attracted the attention of many men, much to the delight—and, sometimes, envy—of Josefa. The tense mother-daughter relationship that had already existed exacerbated as Josefa openly encouraged rich suitors to pursue Eugenia, or steered some her own way, depending on the circumstances. Eugenia repeatedly rejected the suitors, engaging in a battle of wills with her mother, and forcing Josefa to make clandestine arrangements with potential suitors so Eugenia would not have the opportunity to reject them.

 

Salvador frequented the U.S./Mexico Border crossing at Tijuana. For several years he had been working all over Southern California, and his earnings had sky rocketed since leaving Mexico City. Ten years into his daily routine of lifting cement bags, tile, marble, and bricks, insured that he was fit, and tanned. During that time, he had been working during the week on construction jobs in Los Angeles. On the job, he always drove a pickup truck with all his equipment in it. On the weekends he wore a suit and tie, and only drove his Cadillac. Every weekend he would drive down to Tijuana, and escort back numerous Mariachis and or Singers, to the Million Dollar Theatre on Broadway, in Downtown Los Angeles. In the 1940’s, The Million Dollar Theatre showcased Mexico’s top Entertainers from Music to the Golden Era of Theatre and Movies. Eugenia would later attest, as many other women had, that Salvador was a ‘Dead Ringer’ (pencil mustache included) for two of Mexico’s most famous Singer/Movie Stars, Antonio Augilar and Pedro Infante.

Maria Eugenia Yepes de Loretto
Maria Eugenia Yepes de Loretto
Salvador Duenas Yepes
Salvador Duenas Yepes

1946- At the age of 22, Eugenia graduated from the Guadalajara Beauty Academy, and soon after, she met the 28 year old Salvador Yepes in Tijuana. Salvador was handsome, fit, amicable, and sharp, and her tremendous attraction to him was undeniable. To Eugenia, Salvador was a hard-working man who earned his living, rather than a pampered, despotic youth who carried his family’s wealth, as so many of Eugenia’s suitors did. She fell for him instantly, fueling Josefa’s fury since Josefa had been arranging secretly for a local merchant to marry Eugenia. Josefa considered Salvador "un indio patarajada," a barefooted peasant, what she claimed to be the lowest of the low in Mexican society. To Eugenia, Salvador represented everything that her mother abhored. Nonetheless, Eugenia decided to marry Salvador without her mother’s blessing. Josefa, till death, never forgave Salvador. Deeply in love, Eugenia and Salvador eloped at a church wedding in downtown Tijuana and quickly moved to Los Angeles where Salvador was working. Having always had the freedom to move from place to place as he wished, Salvador, once again, continued to follow the construction jobs, and his nomadic spirit, across the State of California.


Salvador was working in Los Angeles. Eugenia, Josefa, and Teresa were living with him. Salvador remembers driving home from work, and from the driveway he could hear Eugenia, her mother and sister all talking, laughing and enjoying their home. When he’d enter the house all was quiet, and there would be a plate of food for him on the table. Eugenia was pregnant. One day when Salvador returned from work, the house was empty and they were all gone. Salvador heard later that Eugenia, her mother and sister had moved back to Mexico. Then later he heard he had a son. Armando Yepes Loreto was born in Rosarito, Baja California. Josefa’s anger toward Eugenia lessened as Josefa fell in love with her first-born grandson and she doted over him nonstop. Taking advantage of Salvador’s absence, Josefa decided to resume her attempts to have Eugenia marry a wealthy suitor. To Eugenia’s horror, Josefa had already promised a downtown businessman that Eugenia would marry him. Wanting to escape her mother’s relentless attempts to marry her off, Eugenia decided to move to Los Angeles and return to Salvador. In a final attempt, Josefa gave Eugenia an ultimatum: if Eugenia moved to Los Angeles, she would have to leave Armando in Rosarito with Josefa. Convinced that her mother would never be satisfied, Eugenia, once again, asserted her spirited nature: with Dona Chonita’s help and her 18 month old son, Armando, in her arms, she boarded a bus heading north to Los Angeles, and left Mexico and her mother behind. Salvador was living in a hotel near Broadway and 8th in Downtown Los Angeles when Eugenia and Armando arrived at his door. It was the first time Salvador had seen his son. Josefa refused to speak or communicate with Eugenia for the next two years.

Josefa resumed traveling from Tijuana to Monterey in search of work, finally obtained employment at a diner in Salinas, California. During that time, she met a Mexican American construction worker, Nestor Villafana. Recognizing that Nestor loved her, and that he possessed the stability and means she had always sought, Josefa agreed to marry him. At 46, and for the first time in her life, Josefa seemed settled and happy. Through Nestor, she obtained her permanent U.S. residency, finally committing to the country that had helped her to change her life.

 

Salvador was working between Los Angeles and Salinas, California. Eugenia found herself pregnant in 1948 but she miscarried: born three months premature, the fragile baby was named Margarita by Eugenia shortly before the infant died. Eugenia was heartbroken but found herself pregnant again in 1949. Josefa and Eugenia resumed their relationship, and Josefa helped Eugenia with Armando during her pregnancy and after the birth of her second child.

Maria Elena Yepes Loreto was born on January 25 in Salinas, California. Eugenia was overjoyed to have a healthy, full-term baby girl, and the family enjoyed many tranquil days during their stay in Salinas. Eugenia asked Josefa’s husband, Nestor, to baptize Elena, becoming her godfather and further establishing his role within the family.

Salinas, California. Eugenia miscarries again, stillborn, Salvador names her Monica.

 

Maria Antonia Yepes Loreto was born in Chula Vista, California on January 7. Although he named Antonia in honor of his mother, Salvador began to resent his increasing responsibilities toward Eugenia and his children. He told Eugenia that she should stop "filling him with girls," that he wanted more sons so they would learn his trade. Eugenia was deeply hurt and disappointed by his viewpoint, but she kept her pain within. 

 

Having three children was a delight, and Eugenia enjoyed playing with Armando, Elena, and Antonia daily, singing, reading, and telling them fairy tales. Eugenia finally had the opportunity to play and exercise her imagination, something she had rarely been able to do as a child.


Martha Yepes Loreto was born in Los Angeles, California on November 5. Remembering her constant moving at her mother’s side, Eugenia was tired of packing and unpacking every year, and she began to pressure Salvador to settle in one place where they would be able to raise their family permanently. Despite Eugenia’s pleading, Salvador continued to follow construction jobs throughout California, ignoring her wishes to settle in one place. Somehow, he could not commit to one neighborhood, one town. Eugenia had endured the constant moving, and more.

 
Being proud of his Mexican Nationalism, Salvador would drive Eugenia, in labor, south toward the Mexican border to ensure all his children were born Mexican Nationals. To date, three of his four children had inadvertently been born U.S. citizens.  Despite the fact that the couple lived in East Los Angeles, Salvador was insistent that his children be born in Mexico. When Salvador found out that Eugenia was pregnant with their fifth child, he made plans to move the family back into Mexico. When Eugenia was six months pregnant, Salvador moved The Yepes family to Tijuana to insure that the child was born a Mexican National.  The last-born, Jose Jorge Yepes Loreto, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico on February 17th.

It was Eugenia’s seventh pregnancy, and she had suffered from constant bleeding throughout the difficult and dangerous full term. Eugenia and Salvador were distraught at the thought of losing another child.

 
George Yepes' late night entry into the world was celebrated with a bang by a meteor shower outside the hospital window and a blessing from a stranger.  "He was born at 2am., the only baby born at that time," says Maria Elena Yepes, his sister and the second oldest of the five siblings.  "There was an elderly woman who arrived at the hospital.  She found out that a baby had been born that night and went looking for my mother; she told her that he was going to be a great man."  No one knew who the woman was, and the family never heard from her again. 
 

Amid a meteor shower over Baja, George was born sickly and on the brink of death, but miraculously at three months old, he was baptized, gained strength, and recovered. Jose Jorge was baptized by el Reverendo Padre Guilebaldo Marquez M.Sp.S. at La Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, Tijuana, Baja California. Godparents: Juan Lara and Esperanza Lara. 

Maria Eugenia Yepes de Loretto, Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico
Maria Eugenia Yepes de Loretto, Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico
Maria Elena and Armando Yepes, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Maria Elena and Armando Yepes, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Armando and Maria Elena Yepes, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Armando and Maria Elena Yepes, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
George Yepes, 3 years old, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
George Yepes, 3 years old, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Jose Loreto (Eugenia’s father) dies in Autlan, Jalisco. He had been working on a machine in his shop and was accidentally electrocuted. Salvador moved The Yepes family from Tijuana to Guadalajara, Jalisco. (Jorge) George spent the next three years of his life in Guadalajara. Jose Jorge was Confirmed by el Ministro. Excmo. Arzobispo Dr. D. Jose Garibi Rivera at the Arzobispado de Guadalajara en La Santa Iglesia Catedral Basilica, Parroquia del Sagrario Metropolitano, Guadalajara, Jalisco. Godfather: Rosendo Martinez

 

Salvador and Maria Eugenia had been married in 1946.  Salvador, proud and stubborn man, quickly became restless, stifled by the responsibilities of familyhood.  Money was doled out as he saw fit, and the family suffered much during their sparse existence in Mexico.  For Maria Eugenia and her children, life was a struggle that tended to ease up when Salvador went off searching for work back in the United States.  A hard worker who worked seven days a week, he would wake up every morning at 4am (with or without sleep, or a hangover) and he would lay tile and marble floors in the Hollywood Hills and throughout the southern California area till way past sunset.
 
During this time that Salvador was commuting to work throughout southern California, back in Guadalajara, Mexico George had begun to draw.
While in Guadalajara, fearing the eminent breakup with Salvador, Eugenia devised a plan to insure that all her children were raised in the United States. When George turned four years of age, Eugenia gave him to her best friend, Maria de Jesus (La Señora Chuy), to smuggle him back into East Los Angeles. George remembers hiding behind the rumble seat of the station wagon as El Senor Goyo drove him across the border into the United States. Chuy and her husband, El Senor Goyo (Gregorio Lugan) lived at the corner of Humphries Street and Brooklyn Avenue in East Los Angeles. George lived in a small trailer in the backyard of the house. Six months later, Eugenia and the rest of the Yepes children arrived from Guadalajara, and moved into the garage at the Humphries house.
On weekends, Salvador began to take Armando and George to work with him on private construction jobs in the Hollywood Hills.  On the job sites, to keep in pace with the construction demands, he was sometimes physically abusive with his sons.  Salvador moved The Yepes family into a house at 4030 East Fisher Street, at Hazard Avenue, below City Terrace Park, in the Heart of East Los Angeles. 
 

When George turned five years of age, Eugenia and Salvador separated. Eugenia, at the age of 38, began the hard work of raising 5 children, alone, in East Los Angeles. She never again dated or re-married. Salvador remained the love of her life until her death. Eugenia made sure that all her children attended the highest priced private schools in East Los Angeles. 

 

Life was calmer after Salvador left, but it didn't get much easier for the family.  In the traditional and tight knit community of East L.A., Maria Eugenia's status as a separated wife marked her as a scarlet woman.  Because of Salvador's alcoholic outbursts, visits from alienated friends and family were sporadic.  The first year, the phone stopped ringing; the garden died; the music died; and the nuns from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church brought the family a food basket during Christmas.
 
Strapped for cash and without skills for work outside of the home, Maria Eugenia filed to the county to learn a trade, of electronics assembly, and also graduated from Adult School, and learned English.  This led to a job building transistors in an assembly factory.  The pay wasn't much, but it helped keep her family together.  Eugenia made sure that all her children attended the highest priced private schools in East Los Angeles. Without a car and with local grocery stores charging high prices, Maria Eugenia and her brood would bus to another neighborhood in East L.A. where food prices were less expensive.  Each child carried a bag of groceries on the trip back.  Soon after the first year without Salvador, the broken family began to feel calm and to heal.
 
In the home, to entertain the children, Maria Eugenia, a gentle and playful woman with a subtle sense of humor, would put out a drawing pad and start drawing and telling them stories.  All of the children were artistic.  But pretty soon, George was drawing realistic pictures of vampire bats, horses, and Roman soldiers, frequently staying at the table after everyone else had left.  George's independent personality soon revealed itself, as did his ability to draw.

As a child, George Yepes grew up in the Fisher Street house neighborhood, but soon expanded to City Terrace Park; Belvedere Park; the Maravilla Housing Projects; and in East Los Angeles at large. 
At Our Lady of Soledad Grammar School, (after learning English) he was elected class president from 1st grade through 8th grade.  At the Maravilla Housing Projects and Belvedere Park, he garnered three years of All City and All County Championships in Football, Basketball, and Baseball. 
 
At age 8, George had entered and won a national art competition to an Art school back East.  When the art institution representative arrived at the Fisher Street house in East L.A., they were surprised to discover that George was only 8 years old.  The scholarship was meant for 18 year olds.  George was disqualified.  At age 10, while playing at the dead end street by his house he discovered a briefcase full of paints.  Running home with is treasure.  He began to paint using his T-shirts as canvases and the back of an old wooden chair as the stretcher bar.  Soon he had run out of  T-shirts before he ran out of paint, and had reduced his wardrobe to only his last two Catholic school khaki uniform shirts.
 
A fifteen years old George took the citizenship test and became a naturalized United States citizen.
 
"I remember George being very sweet, very loving as a child and very vulnerable and at a certain point being very tough and very hardnot being afraid to take on the world and doing it very well," says his sister Maria Elena.  That is why George wears such thick armor, because underneath there is no skin or bones, just a big heart and soul.
 
Since Maria Eugenia put a lot of stock in a good education for her children, George, like his older brother, attended Bishop Mora Salesian College Preparatory, a private parochial school in the East L.A. area.  Outgoing and energetic, his boundless energy was channeled into all things academic.  His first three years at Bishop Mora Salesian College Preparatory in East Los Angeles he was elected class president unopposed.  In his fourth and senior year he was unanimously elected Student Body President unopposed.   At Salesian he was the outside linebacker at 135 lbs., but would sweat down to 118 lbs to box as a Bantamweight.  Like some of  the other neighborhood boys, George, at 8 years old, had also discovered the sanctified world of street violence, boxing.  (The East L.A. neighborhood produced 10 world champions).  At 5'5", young George had a lot to prove in the City Terrace neighborhood.  He started sparring at the Eastside and Salesian Boys Clubs in East L.A., and soon graduated to the Olympic and Main Street Boxing Gyms in Downtown Los Angeles.  Eventually, he fought in the bantamweight division and achieved an impressive record of 35-0 with 32 knockouts. 
 
"If somebody's nice and polite, you're nice and polite in return. You don't start assuming things about people who don't happen to look exactly like you," says Martha, the youngest of Yepes' sisters. "George didn't share what his activities were." 
 
Amidst the daily struggle for survival on the streets of East L.A., Yepes the teenager, could not have dreamed that in his future he would forge a forty-year career in making art.  If you could only survive his teenage years.  A reading of Yepes' last quote and testament from his high school graduation annual reflects a teenager's life on the edge, "I want to be the best that I can be, in the time I have left to live." 
 
Luckily the summer of his 18th birthday, his family moved from the more dangerous East L.A. to a quieter neighborhood near the university.  All of his juvenile activities stopped when he began to pursue dual majors in Art and Business at California State University, Los Angeles.
 
When Salvador had first left the house and family, Armando Yepes, the eldest child at 15 years old, became the man of the house. He attended Bishop Mora Salesian High School full-time, worked two jobs, and set the standard for the other Yepes siblings. Elena was academically double-promoted at Our Lady of Soledad Grammar School, and at 16 years old Graduated from Our Lady Queen of Angels High School, on a full scholarship to UCLA. She graduated from UCLA with a Masters degree in English. Both Antonia and Martha also, graduated with academic honors from Our Lady of Soledad, and Our Lady Queen of Angels, Sacred Heart of Jesus, and California State University Los Angeles, respectively. 

 

Elena (The Honorable Maria Elena Yepes, L.A. County School Board) forged her career at UCLA, LACC, and ELAC; Armando at Savin and Xerox Corporations National Computer Divisions; Antonia at the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor’s Office, and later the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department; and Martha, 35 years and counting, at the Los Angeles County Administrative Offices. 

Joseph Armando Yepes
Joseph Armando Yepes
Maria Elena Yepes
Maria Elena Yepes
Maria Antonia Yepes
Maria Antonia Yepes
Martha Yepes
Martha Yepes

George grew up in the Fisher Street house; in City Terrace Park in general; and in East Los Angeles at large. At Our Lady of Soledad Grammar School, (after learning English) he was elected class president from 1st grade through 8th grade.  At the Maravilla Housing Projects and Belvedere Park, he garnered three years of All City and All County Championships in Football, Basketball, and Baseball. Every year at Bishop Mora Salesian Preparatory in East Los Angeles he was elected class president unopposed.  In his senior year he was unanimously elected Student Body President unopposed.  At Salesian he was the outside linebacker at 135 lbs., but would sweat down to 118 lbs to box as a Bantamweight  35 – 0, 32 knockouts.   All of his juvenile activities stopped when he began to pursue dual majors in Art and Business at California State University, Los Angeles. Back one night in the summer of his youth at the age of ten, while playing in the Brannick Street dead end behind City Terrace Park, George had found a blue steal rusted briefcase full of oil paints. By the age of 14 he began his professional career as a painter, then at the age of 18 he became a muralist at the Public Art Center.

George Yepes, 14 years old, Freshmen Class President, Bishop Mora Salesian College Preparatory
George Yepes, 14 years old, Freshmen Class President, Bishop Mora Salesian College Preparatory
The 4030 East Fisher Street house in East Los Angeles, California  USA
The 4030 East Fisher Street house in East Los Angeles, California USA
George Yepes' high school car: 1957 Chevrolet, 2 door Belair
George Yepes' high school car: 1957 Chevrolet, 2 door Belair
George Yepes, 18 years old, South El Monte Boxing Gym, El Monte, California  USA
George Yepes, 18 years old, South El Monte Boxing Gym, El Monte, California USA

Because of his Business education, he would spend the next 14 years working in the corporate world of  Tax-Deferred Annuities and 401K Plans, all the while painting at his studio every night, and painting murals on the weekends throughout Los Angeles.  Like his Grandfather and Father, George proved that he had also been bred to be a workaholic.  During his first year at Cal State L.A., the Chicano Power movement was ripe and George found inspiration for his artwork in its politics. He painted politically charged murals with other artists on campus, including Carlos Almaraz who was teaching there at the time.  George was soon a member of the Public Art Center (Centro de Arte Publico) in Highland Park, which included members; Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, Gilbert 'Magu' Lujan, Guillermo Bajarano, Richard Duardo, Leo Limon, and John Valadez.
 
In the 1970's, Yepes' paintings and murals had more traditional Mexican folk themes - mariachis, folkloric dancers - and reflected the self-awareness of Chicano politics at the time: A 1977 mural, 40-feet-by-60-feet, was done for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.  Most of the murals didn't survive the '70s.  Nonetheless, in an eight-year span, George was able to churn out 21 huge murals and several hundred paintings.  He was honing his style on the open canvas of the city, both thematically and technically.  From community-based motifs, his art began to exhibit more universal symbolism and mythologies.  A reading of mural titles from that time reflect this change.
 

One of the more prolific painters in the Chicano Mural Movement of the late 70's, Yepes gained his early reputation as a ferocious painter when he painted with notables from Carlos Almaraz and Frank Romero to Gilbert "Magu" Lujan. He then became a founding partner in the mural group "East Los Streetscapers" until he decided that group painting wasn't suited to his temperament or pace.

George Yepes, 16 years old, visiting Josefa Villafana Rico, Grandma, in Dos Palos, California  USA
George Yepes, 16 years old, visiting Josefa Villafana Rico, Grandma, in Dos Palos, California USA
George Yepes, 21 years old, painting murals in East Los Angeles, California  USA
George Yepes, 21 years old, painting murals in East Los Angeles, California USA
George Yepes, 18 years old, painting at the Public Art Center (Centro de Arte Publico) Highland Park, California  USA
George Yepes, 18 years old, painting at the Public Art Center (Centro de Arte Publico) Highland Park, California USA

During the mid-to-late '80s, George's artwork came into its own.  It was a fertile time for painters.  In the early '80s New York, a wave of neo-expressionist art stars - Julian Schnabel, David Salle, and Eric Fischle - was making a splash with gestural, figurative painting.  George's work fit right in.  When 1985 rolled around, he discarded the whole style of the previous 10 years and burst forth with his 'Day of the Dead, necro, Gothic La Pistola series.'  Day of the Dead imagery - sugar skulls, animated skeletons in poses of their former inhabitants, a real celebration and acceptance of death as nothing more than part of the cycle - had transcended East L.A. and hit Hollywood.  It wasn't uncommon to walk into a hipster's apartment in Los Angeles and see Mexican tchotchkes side-by-side with tiki idols and black velvet paintings.  The Soap Plant, a funky store on Melrose Avenue, and its upstairs gallery, La Luz de Jesus, were ground zero for bringing Day of the Dead chic to the masses who flocked to the trendy Melrose scene.
 
Los Angeles art dealer Robert Berman feels that the 80's L.A. art scene will be remembered, historically, as an extremely creative time for Chicano artists.  Emerging from the 70's when Chicano artists were working with strong feelings of alienation and oppression, the next decade contained a movement where the creativity, anger, and identity rebellion of these artists burst forth.  George was a part of this trend, but his personality dictated that he not be affiliated with any particular group. 
 
His work began to strike a chord with a larger audience.  After exhibiting with galleries mainly on the Eastside, in 1988 he began to show at Robert Berman's B-1 Gallery in Santa Monica.  The following year, he blew up with a solo exhibit there.  Cheech Marin and the couple of the moment, Madonna and Sean Penn, all bought Yepes paintings.  The superstar duo also bought the Los Lobos album cover painting that defined George's work for a worldwide audience.  It was a romantic image of two skeletons, a man and a woman side by side, staring into each other's eyes.  The woman holds a pistol across her chest.  The man's large red heart is exposed through his ribs.  The image of the two lovers appeared on the cover of La Pistola y El Corazon (The Pistol and the Heart), an album of acoustic Mexican songs by the East L.A. rock band.  
 
"Being a boxer and a fighter," says Berman, "George wanted to break away and not be part of a collective and wanted to fight for his own style, his own personality.  And that's when he did paintings like the Los Lobos cover….People still talk about that cover."
 
"George Yepes dramatizes with iconoclastic vigor the nature of radical art: he sends you back to your roots. But more than a voyage back to the land of your ancestors and to the soil that (allegedly) nurtured the soul of your people (you know the story), the roots that you go back to through the medium of George Yepes' work are your own: the roots under the ground on which you stand, all that is buried under you and, for that same reason, you can't remember. This is George Yepes' insight, encoded in his artwork in the form of acrylic riddles."
 
Dr. Roberto Cantu, Professor of English, Spanish, and Chicano Studies
California State University, Los Angeles
 
 
"Like Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto (1518 - 1594, Venice, Italy), George Yepes has the ability to pull down from heaven the designs which God has for humans and paint them so people can discover through the paintings what they 
are deaf to in words".
 
Dr. David Carrasco, Professor - History of Religions
Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures
Director, Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project
Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America
Divinity School - Harvard University
 
 
 
"There is a cultural renaissance occurring here, and George Yepes is making it happen by bringing his art. San Antonio is quickly becoming the headquarters of all that is Chicano -- more so than L.A."
Gregg Barrios, Book Editor, San Antonio Express News
San Antonio, Texas
 
 
"Painting is the least of George Yepes' talents..."
 
Courtney Reid, Painter
Hollywood, California
 
 
Although Reid proclaims that "Yepes is a Great Fuck," their mutual admiration for each other transcends the bedroom. 
 
Anna Kevorkian, Staff Writer - New Times L.A.
Los Angeles, California 
 
 
Paint N the Hood - Lone-Wolf painter George Yepes survived East L.A.'s gang life to become "The City's Preeminent Badass Muralist".
 
Anna Kevorkian, Staff Writer - New Times L.A.
Los Angeles, California 
 

Born in a crucible beneath a meteor shower over Baja, then raised and educated in the City Terrace Park neighborhood of East Los Angeles, the meteoric double-barrel life of George Yepes, the Painter, continues to be on fire since birth.  In 1992, George Yepes was named "El Fuego de Los Angeles" (The Fire of Los Angeles) by Councilman Richard Alatorre and the Los Angeles City Council.  For the $1.2 Billion Los Angeles Subway project in 1993, George Yepes was the one and only artist chosen as a sub-consultant on the $3.4 Million Federal Transportation Planning contract.  All four of the top finalist corporate teams bidding on the Eastern Extension subway contract included Yepes and the Academia de Arte Yepes.  George Yepes was partnered with Ricardo Legorreta, the AIA Gold Medal architect from Mexico City, as the duo "Lead Urban Design Team" in charge of designing seven subway stations and tunnels beneath East Los Angeles.  In 1997, Mayor Richard Riordan and the Los Angeles City Council named George Yepes a "Treasure of Los Angeles".  Also, in 1997, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction named George Yepes to the State Task Force on the Visual and Performing Arts for the California Department of Education.  In 1998, the Governor and Secretary of State of California, hand picked George Yepes to paint a mural at the State Capital in Sacramento,  The mural, "The Promise" on the seventy-foot vaulted ceiling of the State Archives Museum, depicts the emergence of California's statehood by incorporating elements from ancient Aztec & Greco-Roman mythology with modern American symbols.  In 1999, John Ferraro, President of  the Los Angeles City Council, unanimously adopted a resolution commending the Academia de Arte Yepes for establishing a visual arts training program to assist teachers to more effectively implement state learning standards for the visual arts.
"BEST INDESCRIBABLE WALL ART" - BEST OF LOS ANGELES
George Yepes.  "Muralist and Painter Yepes is Los Angeles' greatest living Baroque artist".
 
Marc B. Haefele, Writer
LA WEEKLY
 
 
Yepes' oeuvre incorporates art and architecture, ethereally beautiful women, world history, and literature presented in powerfully charged atmospheres.  Educated with a refined renaissance bent, from religious iconography to erotica, George Yepes brings a confidence and knowledge of his craft that calls to mind the great Velasquez and Titian, and the great Mexican Muralists.  Imbued with a contemporary street sense, his paintings and murals combine the best of both worlds where bravado meets classical standards.
 
"When it comes to sheer touch that combines beautiful control over line and brushwork, yet seemingly spontaneous expression, George Yepes is among the best.  His darkly romantic excess can't help but make you think he would have been Dante Gabriel Rossetti's (1828 - 1882, London, England), equal among the Pre-Raphaelites.  But these saints and sinners are hardly a throwback.  Yepes' painting has a visual density and suggestiveness that is as tantalizing to the intellect as it is arresting for the eye".
 
ArtScene
The Guide to over 450 Los Angeles Art Galleries and Museums

George Yepes' paintings are in forty museum collections, and have been collected by a widely diverse audience including Sean Penn and Madonna, Cheech Marin, Patricia Arquette and Nicolas Cage, Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, universities and churches, and city governments nationally.  His Warner Bros. album cover for Los Lobos titled "La Pistola y El Corazon" is published as one of the 'One Hundred Best Album Covers of All Time'.  Yepes recently completed the cover artwork for the forthcoming book titled Untie the Strong Woman by bestselling author, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Her books are published worldwide in 39 languages, including Dutch, Turkish, and Chinese.  Her book, Women Who RunWith the Wolves was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 145 weeks.

 
It's special to have a portrait painter.  And many women agree: lovers and friends; actresses Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria as well as Purple Rain diva Apollonia.  All have had George flatter them through his intense and beautiful depictions.  He's a ladies' man and a painter's painter, who makes beauty sacred and comments on the Latino experience in large, expressive works.  There's a lust for paint that is palpable and a looseness and vibrancy that is as celebratory of life as it is of paint.  A Yepes painting is unmistakable. 
 
"George Yepes is the rarest of talents. I own several of his paintings, and whenever someone walks in and sees them for the first time, I have to stand close so I can catch their jaws before they slam into the ground. George's work grabs you by the lapels and makes you feel as if you're discovering art for the first time. He's a master painter in the best sense, the art comes through him not from him. That is rare."
 
Robert Rodriguez, Director
Austin, Texas

 

Hollywood actresses Eva Longoria, Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton and Patricia Arquette have modeled for several Yepes paintings.  Actress Salma Hayek modeled for 16 Yepes paintings, and in doing so, became the historic mosaic beauty, "The Lady of the Butterflies".  The literary impetus for envisioning the Lady of the Butterflies was inspired by Carlos Fuentes, one of Latin America's most prominent men of letters, and his magnum opus, the novel Terra Nostra.  Movie Director Robert Rodriguez owns thirty George Yepes artworks including the complete collection of 'Yepes Signature' Custom Gibson guitars, and the complete collection of Salma Hayek portraits.  Robert Rodriguez has also commissioned portrait paintings by Yepes of actors Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, and Salma Hayek from the movie "Once Upon a Time in Mexico 2003".  Also included in the movie was a Yepes portrait of Rodriguez, as a blood-drenched mariachi strumming his Les Paul Gibson guitar. Yepes also created the iconic "Shotgun Messenger" as a Day of the Dead banner for the final revolution battle scene included in the movie "Once Upon a Time in Mexico".  In 2006, Yepes moved to 'Troublemaker Studios' in Austin for one year, and worked with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino on their double feature movie "Grind House 2007".  Among other artworks Yepes did the main 60's era "Death Proof" movie poster for Tarantino's half of the "Grind House" double feature.  Then again, Yepes created the 20 foot long 'Machete Crucifix' for Rodriguez' movie "Machete 2010" which also stared Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Lyndsay Lohan, Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin.

 
INTRODUCTION - THE CHICANO SCHOOL OF PAINTING
"The first time I stood in front of a Chicano painting -- it was George Yepes' Amor Matizado -- I had the same feeling as when I first heard a tune by the Beatles."
 
Cheech Marin, Actor
Chicano Visions - American Painters on the Verge
 
Cheech Marin, the actor, has an art collection with over 600 artworks.  Cheech began his collection with the purchase of a George Yepes painting, "Amor Matizado", in 1988.  Cheech Marin owns ten Yepes paintings as part of his permanent art collection which are included in the Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge exhibit.  The exhibit tour of fifteen museums has included: The San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas; The Smithsonian in Washington DC.; the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the El Paso Museum of Art in Texas; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, La Jolla, CA; the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MI; The Mexican Fine Arts Museum, Chicago, IL; the University of Houston in Texas; Saint Louis Science Center in Missouri; The de Young Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, CA; Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art in Florida; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California, with plans in the making to travel to Mexico, Europe, and Japan.
 
 
In 2013, George Yepes is currently working on the new Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller movie, Sin City 2 "A Dame to Kill For". Which has included the production of cast members portraits, including, Lady GaGa, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, and Jaime Chung.  Sin City 2 "A Dame to Kill For" is scheduled for release in August 2014. 
 

Also in 2013, George Yepes completed the commissioned Izel Interior Mural/Paintings for the new, Five Star, Canrad Hilton Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emerites.  The Conrad Dubai is scheduled for Grand Opening in the Fall of 2013. George Yepes produced the Izel Artworks in conjunction with three Dubai Architectural Firms: Fino International LLC; Wa International LLC; and DEPA Interiors LLC.

 

Rudi Jagersbacher, area president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide said:

"I am delighted that we have introduced Conrad's attractive style and service to this new market as Hilton

Worldwide continues to expand our presence in the city. Conrad Dubai will cater to the needs of the ever

increasing number of global, affluent travellers, and the sophistication of the hotel will perfectly complement

the high-energy and vibrancy of Dubai."

 

"A jewel in The Conrad Dubai's crown is the Latin Supper Club, Izel, a carnival of Latin Artistry."

 

 

Location:

Grand Opening:  Fall 2013

The Izel • Conrad Hilton Hotel

115143 Sheikh Zayed Road
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

 




With grand scale, furious momentum, and four decades, Yepes has painted over 800,000 square feet of eloquent social, historical, and sacred images onto the facades of everything from museums and churches, hospitals and guitars, to album covers and movies.  His murals are landmarks throughout Los Angeles, as are the murals his Academia de Arte Yepes students have painted in Los Angeles and Chicago.

 

In 1992, the Academia de Arte Yepes was founded by George Yepes, as the First Free Mural Art Academy in Los Angeles. Since 1992, the Academia de Arte Yepes has provided free High-Standards-Based Interdisciplinary Fine Arts Masters courses in Painting for Elementary, High School, and College students. 

 

Since 1992, (with no funding) George Yepes, the sole teacher, has taught over 2,000 students (for free) from the low-income neighborhoods of Chicago, San Antonio, and East Los Angeles. 

 

Having studied with Yepes at an early age, many of the Academia de Arte Yepes  students have become highly skilled, right-and-left brained professionals, including Master Painters of the Visual Arts.  

 

The George Yepes website was originally created in 1993 as an ingenious teaching tool to assist the students of the Academia de Arte Yepes with their work on the Los Angeles Subway project.  The first goal Yepes set on the Subway planning project, was to establish the Online Integrated-Interdisciplinary website teaching tool.   The centerpiece of the teaching tool was a revolutionary Online 3D CADD computer system.  The second goal Yepes set, was to combine the Academia 3D CADD system, with an Online mentor team of American & European research scholars.  The research team spanned the full range of academia from the visual arts, psychology, religion and history, to urban planning, literature, engineering, astrophysics and interplanetary navigation.  The scholars were all internationally known leaders in their fields and hailed from several dozen of the top institutions including Harvard, Princeton, UCLA, UT Austin, and NASA.  Because Yepes was the innovator and the unifying hub of the entire project, each scholar worked independently and only had contact with Yepes.  The third goal utilized the scholar data to develop a Cultural Needs Assessment and a Cultural Arts Program for the East Los Angeles project area, which included an economic joint development component, and the school-to-career educational program.  The fourth goal developed the assessment data into the Online Educational Model titled: "The Marriage of Art, Science, and Technology".  

 


The complex Educational Model that Yepes had envisioned and created to raise the bar and challenge students, was in actuality an interdisciplinary K-12-college-to-career graduate course for ten year-olds.  Like Mozart with a symphony in his head, or a mural, Yepes was able to envision the totality and direction of his educational project, with all its multiplicity of inter-connected elements, and began to implement it.  In 1993, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) set goals for scientists and engineers to reach out to students nationwide to generate renewed interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and to cultivate and inspire the next generation of explorers. Concurrently, from 1993 through 2008, George Yepes and the Academia de Arte Yepes students proved and implemented their National Educational Model: "The Marriage of Art, Science, and Technology", with the shared talents and disciplines integrated by the Scholar Research Team, the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio and Austin, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI). 

 

October 29, 1994

Dear Mr. Yepes;

"I am impressed with your hard work and commitment to the ideas contained in the material you provided me.  

Please be assured that your suggestions will be considered as I work with the President on related polices and programs. Once again, thank you for keeping me informed of your efforts and for bringing this project to my attention."

 

The Honorable Al Gore, Vice President

United States of America

(Letter to George Yepes regarding the Cultural Needs Assessment and Cultural Arts Program)

 

 

Back in 1993, George Yepes "El Fuego de Los Angeles" had a dream, and took a long look into the future, and utilized computer technology to integrate students, artists and scholars with a $1.2 Billion underground railroad and a $3.1 Billion mission to Saturn, and combined them into an exciting educational program.   And in doing so, George Yepes was able to unite some of the most brilliant people in the world to reach into the East Los Angeles community and inspire students to further NASA's goal of "elevating the intellectual base of mankind".