Developing Community Solutions for the Benefit of All
The purpose of the Santa Barbara Eastside Society is to address, educate, coordinate, and implement community solutions that improve the quality of life on the Eastside and increase the well-being and health of our diverse community members.
Why the Eastside Murals should be Preserved
An Editorial by Eastside Society President Tino De Guevara
February 21, 2021
Ortega Park is home to 18 murals painted by Chicano artists that reflect the cultural history and heritage of Santa Barbara’s Eastside. Recently, the Parks and Recreation Department wanted to remove this legacy to make way for a park renovation without asking for community input.
Eastside activists and residents decided to confront the department’s decision on moving forward with the project. For more than two hours Eastside residents argued before the Santa Barbara Historic Landmarks Commission on why the murals needed to be preserved. As a result, the commission decided to postpone the decision until it obtained input from local residents and the wider community-at-large.
Muralist Manuel Unzueta, who painted the first mural in 1970, was part of the Chicano Movement which saw an upsurge in pride among Latinex. To complete his mural, Unzueta was forced to use inferior paint because the city turned down requests to help provide materials. Because of those challenges, the murals show signs of fading; however, as Unzueta explained at a recent meeting, the work has an added significance.
“Few people realize there is a spiritual side to the Ortega Park murals”, he said.
That’s a point taken by Dr. Tim Dressher from UCSB, who said, “Murals are a living part of the community”. He advocated for the preservation of the murals because they are the essence of the soul of the people. “Think about murals as alive”, said Dr. Dressher.
Likewise, his UCSB colleague Dr. Sanchez, said the murals were a “rupture” with the “old guard” of Mexican-American paintings and depicted historical social events like the Farmworker’s Union, Feminist activism, the anti- Vietnam war movement and Pre-Colombian themes.
The preservation of the murals is critical to the history of the Eastside community. They tell about the Latinex and Chumash heritage in vibrant colors and compelling stories. Removing any of them would be like erasing part of the Eastside’s soul.
Tino De Guevara, President,
Santa Barbara Eastside Society
The views expressed in President's Corner are the personal opinions of the Santa Barbara Eastside Society President . They do not represent the official policy or views of the Santa Barbara Eastside Society.
"The Santa Barbara Eastside Society is dedicated to the proposition that community comes first. We hope you become a Member and support 'Community First' by joining the Santa Barbara Eastside Society."
- Tino A. De Guevara, President, Santa Barbara Eastside Society