Summer Of 99--tour Salinas Murals
Murals tell colorful, informal stories about Latino history.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
You don''t have to bury your head in some dry and dusty tome to learn about Monterey County history. A much more fun way to learn about the county''s colorful past is to take a driving tour of the equally colorful and fascinating murals that adorn numerous buildings in Salinas.
Drawing from the rich tradition of mural and public art of Mexico, the Salinas murals, most of which are conveniently grouped within several blocks of each other along East Alisal and East Market streets, stand as beautiful works of art in their own right, yet provide lots of insight into local history and Latino culture.
The best place to start the Salinas mural tour is at the National Steinbeck Center (1 Main St.). Opposite the museum''s main entrance is a mural completed just last year that pays tribute to the life and literary works of native son John. You can challenge family members to identify which literary works go with which images on the mural.
From the Steinbeck museum, it''s just a minute''s drive over to Club Metropolis at East Lake and Soledad streets. The mural on the parking lot side of the Club Metropolis building is a fantastic work of art featuring an eagle with outspread wings clutching Mexican and American flags in its talons. Below the eagle are a pair of hands offering up the famed Aztec Calendar Stone, while above the eagle stands an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
On the east side of town, you can pick up East Market Street off East Lake to view three murals all within several blocks of each other.
At the corner of Carr Avenue and the 600 block of East Market is a mural entitled "Your Vote is Your Voice." Rich greens and reds dominate this mural devoted to farmworkers and area agriculture.
Farther up East Market at Pearl Street, a three-paneled mural depicts the Spanish expeditions, early mission life, and the dustbowl migration to California.
The mural at Center Street and the 900 block of East Market features eye-bending, kaleidoscopic images of the Golden Gate Bridge, an Aztec pyramid, an aqueduct and historical figures.
There are four murals on East Alisal Street, sharing common themes of the Latino and cross-cultural influences on California history and culture.
At Murphy and Alisal streets is a mural titled "Seed of Hope," featuring themes of regeneration, agriculture, and Aztec symbols.
At 509 East Alisal St., "Love Has No Color" emphasizes Mexican-American unity with portraits of John F. Kennedy, Emiliano Zapata, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Across the street at 504 East Alisal and opposite the La Princesa Market, a mural features the massive Aztec Calendar Stone along with a Chevy convertible and contemporary urban landscape.
On the opposite side of the building at the corner of North Madeira and East Alisal streets, a mural features portraits of a mariachi and a se¤orita. In the center of the mural is a clever trompe l''oeil of a landscape viewed through a barred window painted within the confines of the shape of the state California.
For additional information on the Salinas murals, or to participate in the painting of new murals proposed by the Salinas Redevelopment Agency, contact Jesse Armenta at 758-7387.