18 Murals At Chicano Park Restored

Murals Restored With Higher Quality Paint, Plus Clear Finish To Protect Murals From Elements, Graffiti

A number of murals have been restored at Chicano Park, which is home to the largest collection of outdoor murals in the United States.

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The restoration project took nearly a year and brought back to life 18 of the 72 towering murals. Some are nearly 40 years old.

"The younger generations can keep seeing that it's not something just in the past," said Victor Ochoa. He is one of the original artists from 1973 who saw canvasses where others saw concrete pylons under the Coronado Bay Bridge onramp.

"Even if you don't call yourself an artist, you're always thinking of your children, what you left behind," Ochoa added.

The $1.6 million that paid for the restoration work came from a federal grant administered by Caltrans.

Before the restoration, the murals looked faded and weathered. After the restoration they are colorful and vibrant.

The murals were ravaged by weather, soot and inferior paint. The restorations used higher-quality paint and added something extra: a clear coat finish that will protect the murals not just from the elements but also from graffiti.

"The graffiti can be washed off without destroying the paint underneath," said Ismael Salazar, the Caltrans project manager who supervised the restoration.

Some of the original artists have passed away, so other artists stepped in, including Glory Sanchez Galindo.

"We have a lot to say and we're hoping that people can understand a lot of it," said Galindo.

The images depict Chicano history and politics as well as struggle and triumph. In 1980, the city declared it a historic site.

Restoration artist Mario Alberto Chacon said it is a gift to his son and the world. He said tourists from all over the world approached him as he worked.

"The site is world-renowned, far more than people in San Diego even know," he said.

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