Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Apr 19th
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 (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?