Sun Valley Mural by Mexican Artist Restored After Whitewashing
David Garcia Ocelotl’s first mural is no longer hidden.
Driving the news: The local artist recently completed the first phase of restoration of a mural called “Huitzilopochtli” in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood.
- The colorful art, which Garcia dedicated to her late mother, covered a wall along a former community center at 2895 West 8th Ave., and was completed in 2007.
Yes, but: In April 2020, it was repainted by new tenants, who operate a marijuana dispensary.
- Garcia completed the three-week process to remove the white paint covering her mural last month. It now needs to be repainted in some places to be fully restored.
Why is it important: The Chicano murals, including Garcia’s, along with four others, have been named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2022 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places.
- The murals have been cited for depicting stories of Latino, Chicano, and Mexican-American culture and history in Denver and throughout the state, where Latinos make up approximately 22% of the state’s population, including including some families who can trace their roots back generations before Colorado was even a state. .
What they say : “I am still, at this point, realizing how important this mural is, even with the new recognition,” Garcia said, referring to the National Trust listing, and adding that people called it in tears over the bleaching of the wall paint.
- Garcia, who grew up in Denver, exhibits art at the Museo de las Americas — one of the region’s premier Latin American art museums — and many public works of art, including paintings at inside cultural institutions like La Raza Park, and outside the newest city library.
- He often uses Mesoamerican designs and motifs, mixing bright and bold colors depicting mestizos, people of mixed Native and European ancestry.
The big picture: Preservation efforts are underway in Denver to restore the murals named to the endangered places list, led by the Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado Project, whose goal is to preserve the legacy of these works.
- “To be able to resurrect this mural was huge,” project director Lucha Martinez de Luna said of Garcia’s mural. “Now we know we can do it.”
- Martinez de Luna said clear coats are applied to lighten the colors of the murals and provide UV protection, slowing the fading process.
- At least seven paintings have been painted so far this year, including a well-known piece in La Alma Lincoln Park by Martinez de Luna’s father, Emanuel, and another painted by the late Alicia Cardenas on Larimer Street.
To note : Martinez de Luna said the murals coated this year were done with the approval of building owners.
And after: The murals will be fitted with an anti-graffiti coating and add plaques, while some may require additional restoration work.