“Song of Unity” Mural. Photo Einar Sevilla
By Einar Sevilla
A Berkeley cultural center has begun efforts to create a mural to replace its 34-year-old existing mural, which is greatly significant to the community, but has deteriorated over time.
La Peña Cultural Center kicked off its 2nd Skin campaign to save the “Song of Unity” mural, which has been outside its front wall since three years after La Peña opened its doors.
“[La Peña] promotes peace, social justice and cultural understanding through the arts, education and social action,” according to its website.
“Song of Unity” was the first 3D collective painting in the Bay Area—adding more history to the famous mural.
The mural symbolizes the values of the center and was painted to reflect Central and South American adversity, triumph and art.
“The mural is the graphic representation of our mission,” Publicity Coordinator Fernando
Torres said. “In consultation with the original artists, we are working on a project to paint a new
La Peña had hoped to raise $17,000 by July 2, but was able to fundraise a little over $10,000, which was matched by the East Bay Community Fund.
The Fleishhacker Foundation also awarded La Peña a $20,000 grant to support its efforts to give the front wall a “second skin.”
The new mural will be designed and painted by Trust Your Struggle “an artist collective of visual artists, educators and cultural workers dedicated to social justice and community activism through the medium of art,” according to its website.
“I think La Peña, for us, is a really amazing symbol organization that is very parallel to our mission as a visual artist collective,” TYS artist Cece Carpio said.
“[The mural] is a land mark right now in South Berkeley and North Oakland,” Torres said.
The community has supported La Peña throughout the years, which is why it will try to preserve the original mural.
“The new mural will be created in an attempt to bring the same message with a new skin and feel, for the next generation of Berkeley residents,” Carpio said.
“We are hoping that the new [mural] becomes what the old one was: a symbol,” Torres said.
La Peña will host open community forums on July 22 and Aug. 4 to discuss the design of the new mural and plan a “take-down ceremony” for the current one.
If you would like to help La Peña or attend the forums, visit their website lapena.org or call (510) 849-2568.