A new mural that aims to pay homage to Santa Maria's Latino community and rebrand the downtown part of the city was unveiled Friday.
Located at 601 W. Main St., the mural measures 16 feet in height and over 48 feet in length and is inspired by the vibrant colors on embroidered fabrics worn by women in the Oaxaca and Mixtec communities.
It was painted by local artist Ruben Espinoza from Monday through Thursday.
The artwork is the first project produced as part of the Down Town Mural Painting Program of Corazón del Pueblo Cultural & Creative Arts Center, which opened an office in downtown Santa Maria earlier this year.
Espinoza said the design of the mural, which features a deep-red heart with wings as its focal point, grew out of five workshops held by Corazon del Pueblo earlier this year.
“We wanted to represent the Latina worker,” Espinoza said. “It’s not a literal representation but with the floral [motif] and curves, that’s what I was trying to represent. I did a lot of research with Mixtec art and Mexican folk art, and what I gravitated toward was the embroidered fabrics.”
A Santa Maria High School and Hancock College graduate, Espinoza studied art at CSU Fullerton and spent four years working for animation studios like Nickelodeon and Dreamworks before returning to his hometown in 2014.
In addition to the most recent mural at Main and Smith streets, Espinoza has painted murals on the side of the old Far Western Tavern building in Guadalupe and at the Lompoc campus of Hancock College.
Espinoza said he hopes the mural will help give community members a different impression of west Santa Maria.
“I know nowadays it gets a bad rap because I think not that many people come here, other than those who live here,” he said.
Thus far, Espinoza said people walking by the mural have been appreciative of the new artwork, which replaced a solid-yellow wall.
“Everyone likes the fact that there’s more color on this side of town,” he said. “People think it’s reflective of the community, so that’s a good thing.
"I had kids passing by asking me questions and older adults who told me it reminded them of back home in Mexico.”
Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @razisyed
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