April 18 2012 12:00 AM

See the retouched paintings during the Chicano Park Day celebration


"Quetzalcóatl" was the first mural to go up on the freeway underpass cutting through Barrio Logan. The artists collaborating on the introductory piece made sure its imagery packed a political punch. At the center of the mural, nestled among a beautiful depiction of the Coronado Bridge, a huelga eagle, farm workers and other more expected renderings, is a bright-red swastika. One of the muralists, Mario Torero, says the symbol was included partly because of its connections to ancient Native American and Asian civilizations, but mostly because it's controversial.

"It was anti-establishment," Torero said. "If the establishment liked something or didn't like something, we went against it because we never trusted them. We were challenging the system."

It was the late '60s and early '70s, and racial tension was high. A group of multimedia Chicano artists who called themselves Toltecas en Aztlan had recently taken over-first by permission, then by protest-an unused space in Balboa Park called the Ford Building (now the San Diego Air & Space Museum). They were eventually kicked out and given the large water-storage tank that now houses the Centro Cultural de la Raza. The painters in Toltecas en Aztlan eventually broke off from the larger group and participated in the 1970 takeover of what's now known as Chicano Park.

On March 27, 1973, work on "Quetzalcóatl" began. 

"It's the only mural that has a date," Torero said. "I knew we were doing something very historical, so I tagged it up on the left corner."

The artists working on the mural called themselves the Congresso de Artistas Chicanos en Azltan-that's CACA for short (the Spanish word meaning "poop" or "doo-doo"). Again, the artists were interested in being contentious.

"And we were stoners at the time, getting our shit together, so it made sense," Torero laughed.

"Quetzalcóatl" is one of four remaining murals in line to be retouched as part of the Chicano Park Mural Restoration Project, a federally funded endeavor that began last June 20 and was originally scheduled to be finished by this year's Chicano Park Day, happening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 21. At the event, folks can see the 14 murals that have been restored and compare them with the four that'll be retouched in coming months, plus enjoy music, food, a lowrider show and more. Also, Chicano Park-related exhibitions will be on view at The Roots Factory (1878 Main St.) and Blueprint Café (1805 Newton Ave.).



Follow Kinsee on FacebookTwitter or shoot her an email. 

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28