Artistic organizations join forces for the Juneteenth project
To celebrate June 15, local arts organizations will come together for Murals / Art / Activism, a multimedia project highlighting the importance of public art in activism.
Juneteenth is the oldest national celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The party has gained more and more recognition in recent years, with events being held across the country.
Murals / Art / Activism begins June 15, with two documentary films available to stream free for four days via the Watsonville Film Festival (WFF) website. Later in the week, festival organizers will host a Zoom event with filmmakers and artists.
Finally, the WFF and the Santa Cruz Art and History Museum (MAH) will be hosting an in-person pop-up event at City Plaza in downtown Watsonville.
Pajaro Valley Arts, UCSC’s Everett program and the Santa Cruz Art League are also involved in the project.
“We are very happy to present this program,” said WFF Executive Director Consuelo Alba. “It was a very organic process, the way we all came together to present this. “
Alba said the WFF had previously been in conversation with the Everett program and was actively working with Calavera Media, who produced the short film “Painter of Dreams”.
Meanwhile, MAH was contacted by Oakland filmmaker Spencer Wilkinson, who was looking to screen his film, “Alice Street” as part of a grassroots impact tour funded by the California Arts Council and the San Foundation. Francisco.
All these projects collided to create Murals / Art / Activism.
“Before the pandemic… artists were sort of isolated,” said “Painter of Dreams” director Gabriel Medina. “We all wanted to make the best program possible. But now people are starting to work together. We’re on the same page, seeing that it’s more powerful than going it alone.
“Painter of Dreams” follows the story of Watsonville muralist Yermo Aranda and his relationship to the mural he created in the Watsonville High School (WHS) cafeteria. Originally painted in 1991 with the help of students, the work was mistakenly repainted in 2019, sparking outrage in the community.
Playtime, painted by Aranda, his alumni and current WHS students, was unveiled earlier this year.
“The film… focuses on Yermo and the difficulties he encountered in trying to bring art to the community,” said Medina. “We want to bring its story to an audience that may have heard of it, but don’t know exactly what it is.”
“Painter of Dreams” is Medina’s first director for a film of this type. He said he was “honored” to tell Aranda’s story.
“Yermo is widely known, many artists could have done it,” he said. “I’m so glad he gave us the task of documenting this experience.
“Alice Street”Follows two artists who create a mural in an Oakland neighborhood. The diverse intersection, near the city’s Chinatown and the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, was changing dramatically, due to what residents called gentrification. After struggling to get the mural painted, residents were then faced with the development of a luxury condominium that allegedly obscured the mural from view.
“I was deeply touched by their story,” said Wilkinson. “They had to fight, fight for a place at the developer table… They showed how a community can resist gentrification. It was a roller coaster ride to watch and document.
Wilkinson said that when he contacted the MAH, they recognized the connection between his films and those of Medina, and connected them to the WFF.
“It is a huge honor that [WFF] is interested in this story, ”he said. “It’s honestly a dream come true.”
Medina and Painter of Dreams co-director Marcus Cisneros will join Aranda and Wilkinson on June 17th at 6pm for a virtual discussion and Q&A. The pop-up event will take place on June 18 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at City Plaza. The artists will talk and discuss their work with the community.
“The WFF is delighted to be working with all of these wonderful organizations, filmmakers and artists to present this film program and create a space to discuss the importance of murals and the arts,” said Alba. “It is vital that we step up our support for the arts. As we recover from the pandemic, we need connection, creativity and well-being for everyone. “