“Never Forget Where You Come From, Always Remember Where You’re Going”
acrylic on canvas, 48 × 48″, 2016, inquire about price, by Ruth Chase
Painted in collaboration with Leonard Duran by Ruth Chase. This painting is part of the West of Lincoln Project. Ruth worked in collaboration with Leonard to capture his painful story that communicates wisdom found in his roots growing up in Venice, CA. Leonard’s biography was written by Gena Lasko taken from the interview Ruth recorded with Leonard at the Ihop in Marina del Rey in early 2016.
Leonard Duran – Indio
b. 1963 | Indiana Ave.
I was going to be raised the Venice way, the same way my uncles were raised. I looked up to them. I was Venice Trece, you know V13.
1968, I was 5 years old, the family was having a party at my grandparent’s house. My uncle, Johnny Ortiz, played football for Venice High; they had just won a big game. Three people were shot that night. I lost my dad Leonard, my uncle Johny, and almost lost my mom. Little did I know, that would be the world I came into, and the one I would contend with throughout my life. We six kids were immediately placed in different foster homes until my mom could get us back. Two by two, we all came back home. I spent most of my time hanging around with my uncles in Venice in those days. I would also carry a pain big enough to attempt suicide at the same age my dad was when he was killed, 26.
Despite losing so many friends to gang violence, I have always felt the safest in Venice; it is my home, good, bad, and ugly. With everything I have been through, Venice raised me, broke me, and gave me the life experience to help others. These are my streets, my people, and my past. Eventually, I trained with Frankie Duarte who was a boxing champion at the time from Venice. I also ran a program that helped kids get off the street through boxing called WORK.
Presently I’m a personal boxing trainer at Oakwood Park. I graduated from Destiny’s Bible College and became a preacher. It is my continued dream to work with youth to help them avoid the pitfalls of growing up around gangs.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
Bio taken from an audio interview by Ruth, edited by Gena Lasko