Self Help Graphics & Arts bldg. sold

LOS ANGELES The Sisters of Saint Francis owned the building. The idea of the center was to start a program to help area artists hone their craft and sell their work. Self Help Graphics was housed in the building rent-free.

"There are other organizations but they don't supply the mediums and the techniques and a lot of studios that Self Help Graphics does. This is fine art. This is not craft. This is fine art here," said Yolanda Gonzalez, who got her start in the building 25 years ago.

The building was sold by the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese. The price of the sale is unknown, but it has been appraised at just over $1 million. The former owners, the Sisters of Saint Francis, said they asked the Archdiocese to facilitate the sale of the building. The art center's board and its director are accusing the Archdiocese of selling the building to help pay settlements in the Catholic Church's sex abuse case.

"It really is insulting to think that in a market like this, that you would sell a property if you didn't really have to," said Steve Sais, Self Help Graphics.

In a statement from the Archdiocese, spokesman Tod Tamberg said, "The sex abuse settlement was reached in July 2007. The list of Archdiocesan-owned properties had been compiled by that time. We didn't own that building in 2007, the Sisters did. They ... came to us in 2008 to help sell the property."

The proceeds of the sale would be split between the nuns and the Archdiocese.

Supporters of the center want to know what the Archdiocese plans to do with the program.

"The venue is the center point of every single artist and is interested in the educational programs that they have here. So, we can continue. We prefer to continue here. But it is a responsibility of the church to tell us. How will we continue this program in the Latino community?" said Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina.

The director of the art center wants to meet with the new owner to discuss a deal.


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