Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Jul 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Uniting the Community with Color

news2The Mural Alleyway Project works to beautify the City of Watsonville

Although graffiti is sometimes considered art, it can also be a problem when it becomes a financial burden to property owners or breeds fear in a community.

Painting over the gang signs and tags and monitoring high-risk areas has been the solution for cities such as Watsonville for years. But recently, a band of local artists came up with a new way to abate the problem: murals.  

“We wanted to make sure that people who have less access to art have that access, and there isn’t much more blighted areas than the alleyways,” says Jaime Sanchez of local company Monterey Bay Murals. “We sought out the least desired walls for muralists, and we took them on.”

Since its inception over the summer, The Mural Alleyway Project has created five murals in an alleyway off Sudden Street in Watsonville and one more in an alleyway adjacent to Lincoln Street.

Their hope is that the beautification of the alleys will help to stop vandalism by local gangs and tagging crews, all while bolstering a stronger sense of community among residents and inspiring the youth of Watsonville to take pride in their city.

The project originated from a brainstorming session between Sanchez and his fellow founder of Monterey Bay Murals, Paul DeWorken. The pair has been helping to boost the morale of Watsonville residents even prior to launching The Mural Alleyway Project with their clothing brand The Ville. A play-off the name of the city, The Ville apparel bears simple designs reminiscent of Watsonville, such as an artichoke and strawberry.

Realizing they needed some assistance in bringing their dream to fruition, the two artists teamed up with their longtime friend and community organizer Martin Garcia. Since the project began in June, community members including Daniel Dodge Jr., Jesus Madrigal, Isaac Rodriguez, and Barbara Crum have come onboard. Through partnerships with Santa Cruz Commons, The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, and The Community Restoration Project, The Mural Alleyway Project came into being.

Going door to door near the alleyway adjacent to Sudden Street in Watsonville, Garcia and a group of volunteers acquired the permission of property owners to paint their first mural. The artists wanted a universal design that everyone could admire and chose the California poppy as the theme of their first piece. On Sunday, Sept. 1, after hours of work and with the help of volunteers, they completed the project.

“It definitely made a difference in just that one day,” says DeWorken of the previously unused alley. “Right after we left, Jaime and I drove back around to check it out, and there was already a group of kids playing there. It was really a sweet feeling.”

Their second mural, which was completed on Wednesday, Oct. 2 down the same alleyway, features roses. The artists favor simple designs that can be easily fixed in case the murals are vandalized—a risk they are well aware of. So far, the group has dealt with vandals only once, and, as they were still working on the piece, they restored it that day.

Recently, The Mural Alleyway Project, in conjunction with The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County and Santa Cruz Commons, rallied a group of more than 40 volunteers to help with the project’s latest murals as part of “Make a Difference Day,” on Saturday, Oct. 26. The Mural Alleyway Project worked with the volunteers to complete more flower-themed and abstract murals in the alley near Sudden Street, and one bird-themed piece in an alley near Lincoln Street in Watsonville.

The undertaking was also aided in part by Rex Rackley, the building maintenance worker for the City of Watsonville. Rackley is responsible for cleaning up graffiti in the city, and agreed to primer the walls for the murals completed on “Make a Difference Day.” According to Rackley, the city’s annual cost for the clean up of graffiti is approximately $100,000. Rackley deals with an average of 95 cases of vandalism each month, and welcomes any effort by community members to help him in this task. 

“Taggers usually do respect the murals and leave them alone,” says Rackley. “It definitely looks a lot nicer when I go down an alley and see artwork compared to ugly graffiti. I think the guys are doing a great job, and I’m looking forward to them doing lots of alleys.”

With two more walls already approved, DeWorken, Sanchez, and Garcia have high hopes for the future of The Mural Alleyway Project. They plan to one day compose a structured plan that they can pass down to future artists and volunteers, and would like to see art tours through the alleys offered as the project expands.

“I really believe that there is a desire in the community of Watsonville to beautify the area and to take pride in our homes here,” says Garcia. “A lot of us are tired of gang violence and other negative forces in our community and would like to make the community a better place to live and a special place that we can share with others.”   

Comments (1)Add Comment
Motivational Speaker, Gang and Drug Consultant
written by Danny Contreras, April 27, 2014
This is Kool! I'm an artist as well. I don't know who else you guys talk to or tried to get involved? But a good idea would be to go to all the schools and continuation schools in Watsonville and get all the kids involved to help keep people be accountable and take pride n ownership in their community. Another idea, go talk to the gang members and Leaders. People might be surprised at their support!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

I Was a Teenage Deadhead

Memories of life on tour, plus the truth about that legendary Santa Cruz Acid Test

 

I Build a Lighted House and Therein Dwell

Wednesday, June 24, Chiron turns stationary retrograde (we turn inward) at 21.33 degrees Pisces. We usually speak of “retrograde” when referring to Mercury. But all planets retrograde. Next month in July, Venus retrogrades. What is Chiron retrograde? Chiron represents the wound within all of us. Wounds have purpose. They sensitize us; make us aware of pain and suffering. Through our wounds we develop compassion. Through compassion we become whole (holy) again. Chiron helps develop these states of consciousness. Everyone carries a wound. Everyone carries family wounds (family astrology tracks the astrological “DNA” through generations). Chiron wounds are deep within. We’re often not aware of them until Chiron retrogrades. Then the wounds (through pain, hurt, sadness, suffering) become apparent. They seem to break us open emotionally, psychologically. Painful events from the past are remembered. They are brought to the present for healing. Through experiencing, talking about and deeply feeling what is hurting us, healing takes place. We begin to understand and bring healing to others. All week, Jupiter and Venus move closer together in the sky. They meet in Leo at the full moon, Cancer solar festival, on Wednesday, July 1. The Cancer keynote is, “I build a lighted house and therein dwell.” The soul’s light has finally penetrated the “womb” of matter. The New Group of World Servers is to radiate this light. At the end of each sign are keywords to use and remember during the Chiron retrograde.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of June 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Kickin' Chicken

Local kitchen alchemist Justin Williams is fast becoming a cult flavor master. His late-night wizardry, which began last fall delivering mainly to starving UCSC students, is catching on with taste buds beyond campus. Kickin’ Chicken delivers its spicy-sweet fried chicken and waffles to Westside residents between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. nightly. Or you can catch him and his brother and sister, Candice and Danny Mendoza, serving it up at their “Sunday Mass” at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge at 1001 Center St. in Santa Cruz. Using sous vide, a French method of cooking chicken in a water bath at a tightly controlled temperature, they then flash fry it for an amazingly crispy coat. Candice Mendoza spoke to GT about Kickin’ Chicken’s rise.

 

What’s a creative new approach to addressing summer beach litter?

Robotic dogs, with duct tape on their paws, that walk around picking up litter wherever they go. Joaquin Heinz, Santa Cruz, Barista

 

Pelican Ranch Winery

The most popular red wines found on store shelves are also those most commonly known, such as Pinot, Zinfandel and Merlot. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Pelican Ranch Winery’s Cinsault ($19), it opens up a whole new world. Cinsault is a grape that can tolerate heat, so it is found in countries with warmer climes such as Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, and France. It’s rare in California but grows well in places like Lodi—Silvaspoons Vineyard in this particular case—where it’s hot and dry. Often used as a blending grape, the silky Cinsault is just fine on its own.

 

Open Wide

Soif’s soft reboot leads to expanded menu, plus the ‘thinking woman’s ketchup’