Volunteers paint a series of murals on fences located in the alleyway parallel to Sudden Street on Saturday. (Photos by Roseann Hernandez and Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian
WATSONVILLE — Volunteers and local residents took up paintbrushes on Saturday as they worked on a series of murals in the alleys between Jefferson and Sudden streets in Watsonville.
Depicting abstract motifs inspired by Picasso’s famous anti-war painting “Guernica,” and a string of stylized flowers, the murals are the third showing of the Mural Alleyway Project.
“We are beautifying the city from the inside out,” said Paul De Worken of Watsonville-based Monterey Bay Murals, which spearheaded the project along with business partner and fellow artist Jaime Sanchez and Martin Garcia, community member and analyst for District 4 Supervisor Greg Caput.
“Paint it and they will come,” said Watsonville City Councilman Daniel Dodge on Saturday, as approximately 50 people gathered together in the alleyway to paint and later share in a communal lunch, donated by the United Presbyterian Church.
Dodge, who lives a couple blocks away from the mural site, said residents have been overwhelmingly in support of the project that started with a mural of poppies in the alley between East Fifth and Palm streets.
“People have respect for it and are excited about it,” he said.
Dodge said for those who have homes that open onto the alleyways, the murals are an improvement akin to repaving and an important accomplishment for organizers in light of the city’s lack of a public arts commission.
The murals painted on Saturday continued on from a series of flowers painted in the Andy Warhol style that went up previously in the same location, giving the alleyway a new moniker, “Flower Alley.”
The organizers have high hopes for the project.
“We want to get the whole alley network between Sudden and Madison streets,” said Garcia.
De Worken said they hope to replicate the project in alleyways across Watsonville, the county and possibly even farther afield.
The project relies on donations – paint, time, food – and a number of organizations and businesses have contributed to the effort, including the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Center, the Community Restoration Project, California Grey Bears, Santa Cruz Commons at UCSC, AmeriCorps, and Harrison’s Color Corner and Ace Hardware, both in Watsonville.
The Mural Alleyway Project has secured four more walls in the alleyways, said De Worken, which they plan on preparing for during the winter months.
“We want to finish off any last minute touch-ups and because it is the rainy season, we probably won’t paint anything until next year,” he said.
In the meantime, the artists will be working on their designs and reaching out to more residents to see if they would like to host a mural on their property.
“We are building community, keeping it together and making it positive,” he said.
To volunteer or learn more about the project, visit www.montereybaymurals.com.
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