Community leaders and artists have come together to create a 56-foot mural that will serve as a welcome sign to the San Rafael Canal District.
The mural on Kerner and Bellam Boulevard, which serves as a gateway to the community, is the work of artists Isidoro Filadelfo Angeles, Yuan Chen and Oscar Morales, alongside young artists from Drawbridge, a local arts organization dedicated to homeless and underserved children.
The effort, the first in the city’s new public art pilot program, adds to a series of murals made possible by the non-profit Canal Alliance and sponsored by the Canal Arts Initiative, a collaboration of 11 local organizations. The artistic process will also be captured in a documentary.
The building with the mural was recently acquired by the county and is used for emergency housing. It will soon be converted to permanent affordable housing with support services.
Community leaders from Voces del Canal helped develop the design of the mural and incorporate cultural themes.
The mural is an important way to represent the Canal community as a home for many, said Angeles, who said she lived in the community for eight years, meeting with neighbors in Guatemala, El Salvador and others. Central American country. Their stories were brought to the fore in this project, he said.
âWe listened to whatever suggestions they (the neighbors) had for the muralâ¦ we tried to represent everyone in the community,â Angeles said.
âIt’s unique because we tell a story,â he added, explaining how the elements of the mural come from pieces of people’s lives. The mural depicts a woman depicting the circle of life, children and the means by which immigrants get to America, for example by train.
“We are making (neighborhood) people visible across the country,” said Angeles, who said the project could bring “more color, more life to the canal.”
Next, Angeles hopes to approach local business owners to gain their support for future projects, such as depicting them in a mural to illustrate how they support the community. He also hopes to create a project that uses monarch butterfly symbolism to represent themes of immigration and transformation. He has an active residency and is planning a solo exhibition which will open in August in ArtWorks de San Rafael.
âI think the arts build bridges, they bridge the gaps and forge unity,â said Marin Society of Artists president Meg Reilly. “I think that’s an example of that.”
Canal Alliance CEO Omar Carrera said Latinos make up 30% of the city’s population, “many of whom live in the canal, along with other diverse immigrant populations.”
âWe believe that public art is really an opportunity to uplift the communityâ¦ a neighborhood that brings so much to the county, so much culture, so much support to the economy,â he said.
âSometimes when you think of Marin County you don’t think of the Latino community,â he said, adding that he hopes the art projects will bring recognition to community members who have played a role. crucial in providing food and basic services to vulnerable residents during the pandemic.
âThe artists themselves represent this diversity and this contribution, this culture. When you go to someone’s house, you tell them you want them to feel at home. (It is) is the warm love that Latino culture offers to everyone.
“We are making a statement with the mural, but we also hope that it will be a bridge for visitors to the Canalâ¦ and that the problems of the Canal district are problems for everyone.”
To find out more about Canal Alliance’s projects, visit marinocietyofartists.org/support-canal-arts-initiative.