By Zach Chouteau
The ‘Rich Life’ segment caught up this week with talented local artist Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, who gave us a pleasant surprise via a first-hand look at her recently completed mural at Unity Park, at 16th St. and Ohio Ave.
The brand-new park—including Garcia- Gonzalez’s 80-foot-long and six-foot-tall ‘Richmond Dances and Grows’—will be unveiled officially on MLK Day in 2018. The vibrant work, painted with acrylic on wood panels, took about two months to complete, says the Puerto Rico-born artist who has called the Bay Area home for more than 30 years.
“The mural shows the progress of the Richmond Greenway, from just weeds at the beginning to a final party at the end,” she explains. “It also shows how Unity Park will look in the end.”
While Garcia-Gonzalez ‘won’ the project through an RFP contest directed by the city of Richmond, and is the mastermind behind the sprawling work, she also graciously gives credit to the 12 volunteers who chipped in—truly making it a project for the community by the community. The handy helpers, she says, ranged in age from about 16 to 65.
Community art is a huge passion for Garcia- Gonzalez, a practicing artist and teacher at the Richmond Art Center, where she has helped develop their outreach program—and previously directed their Art in the Community Program.
“I’ve always strongly believed that art shouldn’t be a privilege,” she says. “My personal belief is that public art should show what is possible.”
Among the many cool details of ‘Richmond Dances and Grows’ is that one of its featured subjects is wearing reflective sunglasses that appear to be mirroring the second new mural that is directly across the new park, created by Richmond artist Seren Moran. Another nice touch is the inclusion of some actual Richmond residents being depicted in the mural, including Sherman Dean, Linda Oden and artist Daud Abdullah—known locally for his public mosaic works.
“This mural is all about people,” sums up Garcia-Gonzalez.
In addition to the two murals, two sculptures will eventually be created at the park as well; Unity Park includes 4th and 8th Streets and from Marina Way to 20th St. and will also include dozens of trees, landscaped lawn areas, winding footpaths and a top-tier children’s play structure.
The multitalented Garcia-Gonzalez teaches courses, hosts open studios and displays her works at many local events. To find out more, visit www.garcia-gonzalez.com.
Zach Chouteau is a longtime travel writer and editor, and currently blogs about group and family getaways at Pineapple Go.