Artist looking for input on ambitious city mural project

This artist’s draft shows a concept of what the six-floor parking structure on Rodriguez and Second streets could look like when a proposed mosaic mural project is complete. — Contributed

WATSONVILLE — The largest outdoor mosaic mural project in Santa Cruz County is in the works for downtown Watsonville. In February the Watsonville City Council unanimously approved “Watsonville Brillante,” an ambitious five-year project that will cover the entire exterior of the Civic Plaza parking garage at the corner of Rodriguez and Second streets with mosaic designs.

The project is being spearheaded by Kathleen Crocetti, who has headed up about 20 public art projects in Santa Cruz over the past decade.

Crocetti said her downtown sidewalk mosaic project, “Celebrating the Dignity of Labor,” has served as a springboard for “Watsonville Brillante.” 

“This project is about patterns that reflect heritages,” Crocetti said. “We want to connect each panel to another to show the familiar relationships and connections of current living people.”

Crocetti said she and others have been reaching out to collect demographics at the farmers market, rotary clubs, on the streets, the library and other cultural and service organizations.

The project calls for the installation of mosaic pieces over 12,000 square feet of the six-story garage, divided up by 185 panels that measure eight feet wide by three-and-a-half feet tall. In addition, three large walls of the garage will feature a single mosaic image.

In 2017, Crocetti, along with the help of numerous community members, completed “Celebrating the Dignity of Labor,” a body of 16 mosaic medallions embedded in downtown sidewalks. But Crocetti said “Watsonville Brillante,” will go much further in reaching out and including a far deeper and wider picture of the mixed heritages of the region.

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This mosaic on Main Street in Watsonville is one of 16 works that comprise “Celebrating the Dignity of Labor.” — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian 

“This piece will also have historical significance, but I think it’s going to be more contemporary,” Crocetti said. “Who are we now? Who lives here?”

Crocetti said a big part of the project is a call out to area artists.

“I want to include Aromas, Royal Oaks, Corralitos, Watsonville, and people who use downtown for shopping to be included,” she said. “We’ll be paying artists for their designs. We want to get as many artists as possible to get involved. This project is not about me, it’s not my art; it’s about unifying images that will be thematically connected to one another. Anyone that wants to contribute to the city of Watsonville and its beauty is more than welcome to do so.”

Crocetti added that project organizers are also looking for “angel donors,” people that can donate $20,000 a year for five years.

Crocetti estimated the project will cost $1.5 million, and so far has raised $750,000 in donations. Rinaldi Tile of Watsonville will provide installation services, while Fireclay Tile of Aromas will donate the tile. Rinaldi Tile and Marble and Fireclay Tile have each said they will donate about $250,000 in labor or materials.

“Generally, people don’t just have one heritage,” she said. “ We want to show current history and how we are connected to one another. Eventually there will be a website for people to see which family names are connected with who.”

A major player in the project, Crocetti said, is Juan Fuentes, a Watsonville High graduate now in his 70s. On top of running a print shop in San Francisco, Pajaro Editions, he teaches art at San Francisco State. Fuentes has donated eight images of his own art that include indigenous women, a Guatemalan girl, a black woman, farmworkers and others. Crocetti said the images are being spread around the city for the community to help select what art will end up on the garage walls.

For information, visit Communityartsempowerment.org and to give feedback on the proposed images visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XMH382M.

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This detail photos shows three of eight works by Juan Fuentes that the public is invited to vote on for the garage mosaic project. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

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