Operation Restoration: Help Restore Vietnam Veteran’s Mural at the LULAC Fort Madison Clubhouse
It was 1961 when LULAC Council 304 of Fort Madison, Iowa had two scholarship applicants but only had one scholarship to offer as part of their education program to support local Latino students in higher education. The scholarship committee did their evaluation but could not come to a consensus on who to award the scholarship to between the two students.
The committee decided to have an art contest to decide who would be awarded the only scholarship between the two. A young man named Felix “Felis” Sanchez ended up winning the art contest and was awarded the $200 scholarship for school. The artwork depicted a matador challenging a bull which was painted as a mural on the south wall of the historic LULAC Fort Madison clubhouse in 1963.
Mr. Sanchez then went on to graduate first in his class from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Universidad de las Americas in Mexico City. Sanchez then entered the U.S. Army in 1964 where he was assigned to the First Cavalry Division where he served on regular duty on the only six member Combat Art Team (CAT I) as an artist depicting the war through drawing and painting for a year.
At the conclusion of his regular Vietnam service, Specialist Five Sanchez volunteered to return to Vietnam with the special 16-men artists’ team which concluded in 1967. Much of his work in Vietnam has been published and still preserved in the Army Art Collection at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in DC. He would also send his work to the Des Moines Register while he was on duty.
Sanchez went on to have a stellar art career. He worked at The Seattle Times in the Art Services Department for almost 30 years until 2001, where he did graphic design and promotional work. Sanchez also pursued his fine art — which he would do before work, at lunchtime, after work, weekends, vacations. An award winning freelance artist he entered competitions, sold with galleries, put on his own shows, and published two calendars of his Green Lake art.
Sanchez passed away in 2019 at the age of 76. The Vietnam Veteran contracted Agent Orange which ultimately caused his death. Now Felix’s family, the LULAC Council of Fort Madison, and LULAC of Iowa are teaming up to raise funds to restore and memorialize Felix’s historic mural at the Fort Madison LULAC Clubhouse.
Operation Restoration needs your support to make it happen. Restoring the mural will honor Specialist Sanchez’s commitment and service to our country, preserve our history and culture, and inspire and empower members of our community. Please consider donating through the following options below (PayPal or Check) and share this effort.
Check: Make payable to LULAC Iowa and mail to LULAC Iowa, PO Box 3354, Davenport, Iowa, 52808
Visit Felix "Felis" Sanchez Portfolio: https://www.felixsanchezart.com/