Fading Away to Nada

Orange County’s lost Chicano murals

Chicano-themed murals dot North and Central County, but some pop up in bizarre locales and are known only to residents. These treasures are fading away, and no one is doing anything about it. Here are the most mysterious.

CORNER OF BRADFORD AVENUE AND SANTA FE STREET, PLACENTIA
Placentia's Placita Santa Fe neighborhood hosts a couple of murals, but its crowning attraction would've been a 70-foot-long epic that members of Cal State Fullerton's M.E.Ch.A chapter painted on the wall of a building. Called "Cultural Self-Determination, Prevents Youth Incarceration," it was finished in late 2005, but the Mechistas had to whitewash it shortly after its completion because city fathers claimed it promoted non-assimilation. The sinning images? Latino students working on computers and wearing graduation robes. Nothing commemorates this lost work—not even graffiti.

CORNER OF RICHFIELD ROAD AND ORANGETHORPE AVENUE, PLACENTIA
Near Los Niños Park stands Orange County's longest mural: a 240-foot panorama featuring Maya gods, Aztec eagles and laborers picking the orange trees that once dominated the area. And that's just what we can decipher: The mural is badly faded, painted on a fenced-off wall and isolated from closer inspection by a drainage canal. Someone call Jean-François Champollion, stat!

442 N. CYPRESS ST., ORANGE
Legendary muralist Emigdio Vasquez painted this work in 1979 on two sides of a garage in Orange's historic Cypress Street barrio. The property is still inhabited by one exasperated—though good-natured—renter. "People come here all the time," says Edward (no last name given), who has lived here for five years. "Students come by and take pictures, and they always ask me if I can let them in my house so they could see the rest of it." Watch out for the two dogs!

CORNER OF RAITT STREET AND CHESTNUT AVENUE, SANTA ANA
Another mural painted on the side of a house. This one is not particularly Chicano-themed—it's dedicated to Santa Ana's children—and gets no love: Small gang etchings sully the soft colors, and a big gray tag tells the initials of the neighborhood gang. Nevertheless, we include it in this list because the unsigned mural foretold the Reconquista—the conclusion of the mural shows Santa Ana turning into Mexico. Eerie.

For more images, click here.

GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

 
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