Background: Almaraz was born on October 5, 1941 in Mexico City, but his family moved when he was a young child, settling in Chicago, Illinois, where his father owned a restaurant for five years and worked in Gary steel mills for another four. The neighborhood Almaraz and his brother were raised in was multicultural, which led him to appreciate the melting pot of American culture
Education: He graduated from Garfield High School in 1959 and attended Los Angeles City College, studying under David Ramirez, and took summer classes at Loyola Marymount University. Loyola offered him a full scholarship, but he declined it in protest of the University’s support of the Vietnam War and stopped professing the Catholic faith altogether. He attended California Statet University, Los Angeles but became discouraged by the structure of the art department there, “because there was no place for an artist.” While at CSULA, Almaraz began attending night courses at the Otis College of Art and Design, then known as Otis Art Institute, studying under Joe Mugnaini.
Achievements: His “Echo Park” series of paintings, became known worldwide and have been displayed in many museums internationally. On November 12, 1978, Almaraz wrote “Because love is not found in Echo Park, I’ll go where it is found”. While Almaraz may not have found love at Echo Park, he certainly found inspiration to produce paintings there: he lived close to the park, having a clear view of the park from his apartment’s window.
Carlos Almaraz died in 1989 of AIDS-related causes. He is remembered as an artist who used his talent to bring critical attention to the early Chicago Art Movement, as well as a supporter of Cesar Chávez and the UFW. His work continues to enjoy popularity. In 1992 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art honored him with a tribute featuring 28 of his drawings and prints donated by his widow.