FRANCISCO MENDOZA 1958-2012
Francisco Mendoza was one of the most interesting personalities that I have ever come across, in or out of the art field. For 25 years, Francisco taught at what is now the Orozco Community Academy in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. I met Francisco many years ago when he came into Graphic as a customer. His humor was fantastic, and he did uncanny imitations of notable personalities.
I had the honor of going to visit the Orozco Academy back in 2004 or so, as part of my other life - education. The State Board of Education in Illinois had scheduled a meeting at the Mexican Fine Arts Museum (now the National Museum of Mexican Art) in Chicago, and as part of the two day meeting, we visited some local schools , including Orozco. I was totally blown away with the incredible mosaics on display at the school. About 2 months after my visit, I was speaking with Francisco and mentioned that visit. That's when I learned that Orozco was where he taught. I began waxing poetic (well poetic for me anyway) about the mosaics, and Francisco said that he had done them. My immediate reaction was cynical given his sense of humor.
It turns out that not only had he done them, but that he was sought out to do them by one of Chicago's top art patrons - Maggie Daley, the wife of the former mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley.
Francisco passed away on March 12 from complications from multiple myeloma. His murals are well known in a city that treasures art like few others. In addition to the mosaics at Orozco, Francisco had installations at the South Chicago YMCA, the Chicago Transit Authority's 18th Street L station, and numerous other places.
Francisco Mendoza is survived by his sister, Juanita, a brother Vicente, and a nephew James Larralde. His passing leaves a void in the Chicago artists' community and he will be missed by all.