Carlos Almaraz Documentary Film Project

Make History. Make Art. Make Film of the life and art of an American Master: Carlos Almaraz.

Carlos Almaraz was one of Los Angeles’ leading contemporary artists when he met his untimely death to AIDS in 1989.

Born in Mexico City he moved to Chicago then Los Angeles as a young boy where Hollywood and Walt Disney sparked the wonder, the quality of light and color pallet that would later define his artistic vision.

After high school Almaraz moved to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming an American Artist. More importantly it offered anonymity and freedom to act-out the sexual abuses he suffered as a child at the hands of a pedophile uncle and a priest. This launched a lifelong toxic journey of selfdoubt and dangerously promiscuous gay and bisexual explorations.

The film will follow Carlos on a path of alcoholism and mental illness that eventually lands him on a deathbed in Los Angeles. “Pancreatitis is my new name, a 29 year old alcoholic” he would scribble in his sketchbook after surviving 42 days in a coma where he’s given last rites, dies, leaves his body and encounters an alien spacecraft that takes him to explore the galaxy to answer his many questions about the mysteries of existence, the universal language and the Creator.

When Carlos recovered, he immersed himself in the cultural renaissance of the Chicano Movement. He remained committed to that work until the last 10 years of his life when he entered the mainstream gallery arena.

The use of fanciful imagery and humor in the context of self-reflection enabled Almaraz to traverse dark passages of the psyche as exemplified in one of his most acclaimed series, The Car Crash Series. The car crash evoked a modern day symbol like a burning effigy to the technological age. Almaraz readily espoused their representation as the clash of twentieth-century man and machine, the clash of cultures and of the sexes, creating fertile social commentary on the human condition within the context of one of modernity's most powerful myths, the "American Dream" represented by the automobile.

He would write; “The American Dream is, you come here, you become an individual, you take your chances in order to make it big. The cost of that is that you may not make it. CRASH!"

Carlos greatest love affair was with painter Elsa Flores. They married and had a child, Maya. As a family they found an artistic hideaway on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

This film offers an intimate portrait of a precocious East Los Angeles youth struggling New York artist, spiritual seeker, intellectual, cultural worker, activist, charismatic leader of the Chicano Art Movement, comrade to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union and artist pursuing his dreams. We will also shine a light upon the insidious dimensions of the AIDS epidemic during the 80’s.

With full access to the Almaraz Estate, much of the narrative is told through Almaraz’ own voice utilizing vintage footage, poetry, interviews and journal readings by iconic voices like Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against The Machine) and Edward James Olmos. There will also be celebrity interviews of avid collectors of his work, such as Cheech Marin and George Lopez, among others. Artist Louie Perez (Los Lobos) will compose the soundtrack.

2017 will be a landmark year for Almaraz as The Getty Initiative will be launching a major traveling retrospective of Carlos’ work “Playing With Fire” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and in 2018 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Here's a glimpse into the documentary work that is being done, thanks to the support of our IndieGoGo campaign.

Director's Statement:

“Painting is an illusion. It’s a picture that someone makes. It’s a window to something that may or not be real. It’s there and it’s as real as anything else at the time that you’re viewing it.”

From the Directors: Mission meets Technology

How to best tell the story and capture the life of a painter whose skill and mastery has been argued to be on par with other American Masters such-as Pollack, Rothko and Ruscha? An artist collected by Hollywood elite and NYC collectors alike whose work has only grown in importance on this the precipice of receiving his first large retrospective at the seminal LACMA since his passing. Our window is now. The Story of Almaraz must be told.


ALMARAZ’ paintings of nocturnal desires in Echo Park to fiery freeway crashes will come to life and “move” with unobtrusive animation and or 3-D experience. This will allow us to move deeply, lyrically and poetically into the paintings rather than staring at a two-dimensional painting on a wall or screen. What drew Almaraz to these moments of demise?

At Our Core and to the Bone:

Is there a peace in the violent collisions? What does it ask of the viewer? Can we look away? Do we dare for fear of missing something?

What do we take away?

The questions haunt us as filmmakers and will haunt the viewer. Every artist has their dark side which somehow feeds the light on a canvas or song, inspired by the Cobain & Winehouse Doc’s we are interested less in talking heads and data and more into unlocking the secrets of process and using paintings as a widow into the internal soul of Carlos. We are left with a journey - soaring high – the journey tells us something about ourselves and the communities in which we wish to live in or even gentrify.

The artist as ultimate outsider!

Well beyond the limits of a political poster we endeavor to reach the sky where true talent hovers above the notion of what is expected.

Drones in the Barrio:

Speaking of sky! We’ve been testing and shooting hi-def drone footage of the LA River and demolition of the famous 6th Street bridge, Echo Park and more. Allowing us to view our “place” in radically different ways, like a painting, we allow ourselves to see our corner of the world but in the context of a larger universe. The painter does this with his or her canvas by looking down at entire oceans or poppy fields and now Almaraz’ can be added to the cannon. In this hugely cinematic fashion, we match the hugeness and generosity of the artist’s heart. We travel with him as he imagined our place in a larger imperfect world.

Paris, Boyle Heights, Lower Manhattan, Echo Park, Cuba, Beverly Hills or his final resting place on the island of Kauai, with Almaraz we leap without regard over borders real or imagined, and gleefully over walls of sexual desire even…Viva Carlos Almaraz! American Master.


Available For Purchase:

$15 Almaraz Stickers

Two beautiful stickers to grace your computer, window, shower pane, Subaru Lowrider or Prius. Echo Park lll in the circular shape of life and Almaraz in Wonderland!



$33 Digital Download (Standalone perk)

With your help, we’ll be able to bring the story of Carlos Almaraz to the masses, and we want to make sure that we can bring it to your home! For $33, we’ll give you a secure link where you can download the movie and stream it on your TV, your laptop, tablet or phone. It’ll give you a very personal opportunity to enjoy the beauty and the lyrical madness that made Carlos who he was.


$40 Carlos Almaraz Tote Bag

Carry your jalapeño hummus & paint brushes in style with your very own limited edition Carlos Almaraz Tote Bag! Carry your contraband in style from The Valley to the South Bay, from the West Side to East Side. Hipsters from Williamsburg to Berlin and The Mission will demand them but you can only get them here with your generous donation! (Beware of knock offs in Tijuana and the El Monte Swap Meet!)


$50 Carlos Almaraz T-Shirt
women's designs available, will be posted soon!

Make a fashion statement with this bold & beautiful T-shirt which captures an artist who used his talents to challenge us to consider human nature and transitions we all must face or chose to ignore. Woman's designs available, coming soon. Made in the USA by La Raza and fair wage workers of every stripe and sexier than American Apparel workers! These unique T’s are ready to rock & roll and made with high quality organic algodon/cotton. Wear it. Rock it. Shock it. Be too sexy for your shirt!


$50 Limited Edition "Greed" T-Shirt

Here's your chance to wear one of the iconic paintings by Carlos Almaraz! As we close up the fundraising campaign, we're making available this limited edition black t-shirt featuring "Greed", one of the most recognized paintings from the Almaraz Collection. One thing is to support the art, and another is to rock it!


$75 Almaraz Enthusiast Package
Sticker + Tote + T-Shirt

Make both a fashion statement and get an awesome collectible poster with this perk. You will get the Carlos Almaraz sticker, tote, and t-shirt, but you’ll also get a collector’s edition Carlos Almaraz official documentary movie poster.


$111 Almaraz Fanatic Package
Sticker + Tote + T-Shirt + Documentary Poster

Make both a fashion statement and get an awesome collectible poster with this perk. As in the “Enthusiast Package”, you will get the Carlos Almaraz sticker, tote, and t-shirt, but you’ll also get a collector’s edition Carlos Almaraz official documentary movie poster.


$150 Almaraz Premium Package
Sticker + Tote + T-Shirt + Signed Documentary Poster
& DVD copy of the Carlos Almaraz documentary with director commentary

This perk includes all the items in the $111 perk package BUT the official movie poster is signed by co-directors Elsa Almaraz and Richard Montoya. This perk also comes with your very own DVD copy of the Carlos Almaraz documentary with director’s commentary! You’ll be able to view the documentary from the comforts of your own home, bringing to your living room a truly special experience.


$200 Almaraz Prime Package
Sticker + Tote + T-Shirt + Signed Documentary Poster
& Blu-Ray copy of the Carlos Almaraz documentary with director commentary

Step up your collector’s package to the next level with this perk, where you not only get the sticker, tote, t-shirt, and signed documentary poster from the previous perks, but you also get a Blu-Ray copy of the Carlos Almaraz documentary with director’s commentary. Now you can experience the Almaraz story at home in high definition, which perfectly describes who Carlos was.


$650 - 2 VIP Tickets to LA Premiere of the Documentary (100 available)

Join the stars like long time Almaraz collector Cheech Marin for a memorable evening on the red-carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of the Carlos Almaraz Documentary. It will be a historic evening of cinema that you played a crucial role in creating. And what better way to commemorate the experience than to also have all the perks included at the $200 level! You can’t go wrong with that. *Travel and accommodations not included.


View this reflection from LACMA's Michael Govan:


$1,111 - Fancy Wino brown bag in Echo Park!

“Sunday In The Park With Carlos”~ Where Art History and Contemporary Art Meet! Picnic with the Executive Team behind the project with wine, craft beer... in Echo Park, the scene for Carlos’ beloved Echo Park series. Discuss film, art and the life of the artist or just shoot the breeze about lighter subjects such as gang injunctions and gentrification! Paddle boat rides available. Package also includes the $200 Almaraz Prime Package perks! Kombucha available for nonalcoholic drinkers! (respect)


$4,000 - Private Screening anywhere in the US

Host your very own PRIVATE screening of the Carlos Almaraz documentary in your town. We will rent out a theater near you and screen the movie for you and 25 of your friends. We’ll include the popcorn and soda pop, you provide the guests. This perk includes all the $200 perks.


$4,500 - Own an original ink drawing

As is the case with many fine artists, their personal sketchbooks are a rare window into the process of genius, a once in a life-time view to their world and spirit. The Carlos Almaraz Estate, has generously made available a select 4 ink drawings from Carlos’ sketchbooks, each a one of a kind piece that will hold a special place in any art lovers collection. *IMPORTANT NOTE - First come, first served on your selection from one of the 4 sketchbook drawings. This also gets you the $200 perks.


$25,000 - Own the Art and Receive the Credits

By claiming this perk, you will not only take home a rare piece of artwork from Carlos Almaraz, but you will also receive a Special Recognition within the end credits of the Almaraz Documentary. The Carlos Almaraz Estate has made available 4 highly sought after large scale vintage Almaraz serigraphs printed by Richard Duardo at Modern Multiples Studios (each appraised at over $10,000 - shown below). First come first served. This also gets you all the $200 perks and two tickets to the RED CARPET premier!

The Clock Struck Three, 1989, Edition 140, 32 Color Serigraph, 36" x 38"


The Tree of Life, 1989, Edition 120, 35 Color Serigraph, 48" x 38"


Echo Park 3, 1990, Edition 140, 32 Color Serigraph, 41" x 41"


West Coast Crash, 1990, Edition 140, 43 Color Serigraph, 19" x 55"


Very Special Gracias are in order to:

Communications and Political Strategist: Centro Strategies – Ulisses Sanchez

Huge GRACIAS to Drone Artist/Operator Maximilian Frauchiger

Love & Gratitude to Modern Multiples & The Duardo's

Design Consultant Chelo Velasco Montoya (Otis College of Art and Design)

HUGE nod: Mr. Louie Perez y Los Lobos (Just another Band from ELA!)

Campaign Video Cutter Richard Alarcon

Special Thanks to longtime Almaraz Friends and Supporters:

Michael Govan, Zack de la Rocha, Cheech Marin, Dolores Huerta, George Lopez, Maya Almaraz, Eduardo Dominguez, Roberto Gil de Montes, Chon Noriega, Craig Krull, Jan Turner, Ann Lewis Roberts, Louie and Mary Perez, Jack Nicholson, Eduardo Diaz, E. Carmen Ramos, Howard Fox, Luis and Lupe Valdez, Josine Ianco Starrels, Joan and Jack Quinn, Rigo and Rosie Saenz, Barry Sky, Rebecca Rickman and Kenneth Brecher, Aimee and Monroe Price, Jeffrey Vallance, Frank Romero, Daniel Brice, Allison Goodman, John Valadez, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, Ricardo Duardo, Lisa Duardo, Efam Wolff, Beto de la Rocha, Barbara Carrasco, Harry Gamboa, Willie Herron, Mark Bryan, Elijah Ray, Dan Guerrero, Jesus Treviño, Linda Vallejo, Mark Bautzer, Ron and Leslie Ostrin, Gina Lobaco, Gary and Ann Borman, Patrick Ela and Phyllis Ginter, Dr Eugene Rogolsky, Paca Thomas, Richard Candida Smith, Otis College of Art and Design... and the list goes on~

"I am grateful for the mentor I never had. His work evokes the understanding of cultural influences not just with the Chicano art community but also within any conscious mind. His art continues to inspire a new era of rising stars to this day. I am truly blessed to be apart of what he has made possible for artists and I am in great company with his art and teachings.”~ Atomik

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If you would like to invest in the film, contact Mark Roberts at:

Help us complete this production and bring Almaraz across the finish line!