Sometime in October, workers whitewashed a Mexican-themed mural in Santa Ana that had adorned the two-story offices of Spanish-language weekly Excelsior for more than a decade. It was a simple--even trite--thing, really, purporting to depict a day in the life of this most Mexican of cities: a mom with a baby stroller, fruit vendors and a student reaching for the sky, with everyone walking in front of yet another mural showing baile folklorico, a soccer player and a mariachi.
Eric Hood Detail from Emigdio Vasquez mural
Hundreds of thousands of people saw this untitled mise-en-scène as they drove on Grand Street over the years. It became part of their daily landscape, so taken for granted that no one really noticed anything amiss until the Weekly broke the story in early November. Public shock, sadness and outrage followed, all hurled at the building's current owner, mega-developer Mike Harrah . . . and then, nothing.
Such is the sad state of Chicano murals in OC. They've been up since the 1970s and '80s, painted with much fanfare at a time when Republicans hadn't yet demonized public-funded art, when city officials blessed them as community projects that beautified barren walls in working-class neighborhoods. From Anaheim to Placentia, Irvine Valley College to Capistrano Beach, dozens of pieces dotted la naranja--some adorning garages, others spanning hundreds of feet.
And they're now slowly, collectively disappearing.More »