I have lived in Santa Barbara for more than 50 years and clearly remember when the murals were painted in Ortega (a.k.a. Ruben Salazar) Park, in an outpouring of Chicano pride and community spirit. The fact that they have been touched up and repainted since their original creation speaks to the high importance they hold in our cultural life and history, not just of this neighborhood but of the whole city.
So I – a non-Latina – was shocked to learn of the City’s plans to destroy many of these important art works under the guise of “improvement” of the park facilities. It is outrageous that the paintings are regarded as expendable impediments to realizing an outsider’s vision for a community park, when that community has not been fully consulted in determining how best to meet their needs.
Preserving these murals is perfectly feasible and can still allow for revitalization of the park. There are internationally recognized art conservators in the local area who are capable of undertaking this work.
Please, save the Ortega Park murals!