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DSE - Barrio Logan
By Miguel Covarrubias - October 28, 2011

On Saturday, September 24, the people in Barrio Logan were moving. 614 Rock Church volunteers flooded into Barrio Logan as part of the Do Something World Campaign to work on beautifying the Barrio Logan neighborhood. The Family Health Center of San Diego had its fifth annual ¡Vive tu Vida! Get Up! Get Moving! ® Health Fair in Chicano Park. The Chicano Park Mural Restoration project continued to restore the murals that fill the neighborhood with color and culture.

The Barrio Logan murals are the largest collection of outdoor paintings in the world.

“They’re very historical to the neighborhood and tell the story of what happened,” said Councilman David Alvarez, “This freeway came down against opposition from the community and a lot of homes were taken out. The state wanted to build a police substation. The people boycotted it, and the state ended up giving it to the city for a park.”

All the paintings have a story. They illustrate how the community came together to create a park and keep the murals.

“In the beginning, all the murals were painted by artists that volunteered their time. The paint was house paint or whatever they could get. Nobody paid them, and they really didn’t have money to buy good paint. That’s why a lot of the murals are faded,” said Tommie Camarillo, the chairperson for the Chicano Park Steering Committee.

The proposal for the project was written in 1999, submitted in 2000 and approved in 2002. The project officially started in June of this year. Artists will be restoring 18 of the older murals. It is a $1.6 million project.

“This is the first time that they’re actually going to be painted with better quality paint. They will have sealants and graffiti guard. Five of the murals are already restored.” said Camarillo. “I’ve noticed that while they’re restoring, a lot of people are coming. It’s reviving everything in the park.”

The restoration has been a positive step in the community, bringing more visitors and beautifying the neighborhood.

“The park here is what in Spanish we call the “corazon del barrio,” which means the heart of the community,” said Camarillo who has spent 41 years with the Chicano Park Steering Committee. “Here we’ve had weddings, baptisms, indigenous baptisms that they call water ceremonies, quinceañeras, art shows, and celebrations of life.”

The returning artists also recognize the significance of the murals.

“The importance goes beyond Chicano Park. These murals beautify and enrich all Chicanos and all creative and progressive people worldwide! These murals become a positive cultural statement that enriches us all,” said Juanishi Orosco, one of the original artists, via email.

The murals have a positive influence on art and people everywhere.

“Logan Heights is a hub of the county barrios,” said Victor Ochoa, one of the artists working on the restoration of the murals, via email. “The park acts as a destination for this belly button (ombligo de los barrios) as well as an action and spiritual site for our Chicano community.”

The murals unite everyone.

“Everybody comes here from all the communities, and there is no fighting,” said Camarillo. “We’re all family.”