San Diego City Council Embraces Hispanic Heritage Month, Displaying Work By Chicano Park Muralists, Presenting Xavier The X-Man With A Citizen Of The Year Award, And Listening To The History And Present Movements Of Chicano Park

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By: Miguel Cid ∞

On September 16th, City Hall’s Administration Building lobby doors opened and Barrio Logan’s 45 year old Chicano Park pillars, murals and all, stood tall on display— well, four foot tall replicas did, that is.

The pillars and artwork by members of the Barrio Logan community (names of artists and contributors below), part of “A National Treasure in the Barrio” art show, curated by Chicano Park muralist Victor Ochoa and co-curator Claudia Portillo, will be on display at City Hall until September 19th. The replicas of the muralists’ work may be small in comparison to the pillars located in historic Chicano Park, but the artwork on display still holds the weight of the resistance to forces of the 60’s, 70’s, and prior to present—the fight and struggle to create a park—and the beauty of people coming together and forming a community with a new identity of the times—a Chicano identity.

Councilman David Alvarez started the event at noon in the Administration Building by thanking the artists of the Chicano Park murals and pointing out some in the audience such as Salvador Torres and Ochoa, prior to passing the microphone to the Mayor Kevin Faulkner and other council members present. All speakers touched on the importance of recognizing and celebrating the achievements by the Latino communities of San Diego and Mexico as part of the “kicking off” of Hispanic Heritage month. Mayor Kevin Faulkner expressed his thanks to the Latino presence in San Diego and those who reside in Mexico and work on this side of the border, recognizing culture formed from living in border towns. “It’s not particularly about two cities, San Diego and Tijuana, it’s about one region.” Mayor Faulkner said.

After words from council members and Mayor Faulkner, Alvarez presented DJ and Radio Personality Xavier “The X-Man” with the Citizen of the Year award for giving back to San Diego—also marking September 16th as Xavier “The X-Man” Day in San Diego. Xavier “The X-Man” is know to many for his radio show on FM 92.5, but received recognition for being a yes-man for helping communities all around San Diego and his continued involvement every year with “Cruise for the Cause”, a lowrider cruise that benefit children with cancer. The self-proclaimed “Mexipino” received the award with words that highlight his values, “I don’t look for recognition I just do what I learned when I was a kid. My mom used to say that when you’re in a position to help people, you just help, you do what you can to support.”

The final speaker of the event Josie Talamantez was introduced as the woman who two years ago, single handedly took on the task of getting Chicano Park, with the support of the community, on the Nation Registrar as a historic place, and was asked to speak by Alvarez on behalf of the of artists of the Chicano Park murals. She touched on the process and the criteria that got Chicano Park and the murals on the National Registrar and gave a brief history of how the park was created by the community, instead of the Highway Patrol station that was being built in 1970.

“The murals tell our story, they talk our culture, they tell our history in visual iconography—but Significant C, we, the artists, the community, the workers, represented the height of the Chicano Civil Rights era.”

Talamantez continued after listing other criteria that helped get Chicano Park on the National Registrar, “It’s important to know as we go forward, the park, the murals—the stewards are the Chicano Park Steering Committee. And it’s made up of a number of community residence and people who care about the park, who care about the murals, and care about the upkeep and how things happen in the park—and we watch over that. What we are working on now and have in place is the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center—and you’ll hear more on that.”

Talamantez went on giving credit to artists such as Salvador Torres for being known by many as the one who first visualized the art on the blank pillars of Chicano Park, while walking through the area, and pointing out Victor Ochoa for organizing the first mural marathon bringing artists throughout the Southwest to come and paint. She also gave credit to Tommie Camarillo as the lead of the Chicano Park Steering Committee and long time steward.

After all speakers stepped down and cameras were busy flashing, Xavier “The X-Man” commented about what helped him become successful as a radio DJ, speaking on the importance of implementing public radio in the community.

“When I started in radio that’s how I learned—public radio. The basis of my career has always been how to serve the community, how to serve the public? I think that’s what makes me different on the radio. Working with the community is, how can I help the people listening to my radio show? I think it’s important that we have people with voices that are in the community, speaking about things that are in the community—not somebody that’s on the outside looking in. But someone who’s there in the trenches trying to make a difference—and those voices need to be heard. People need to hear those voices.”

The event recognized ongoing efforts of residence and community members of Barrio Logan, awarding Xavier “The X-Man” with citizen of the year, all while inviting the public to witness the art exhibit “A National Historical Treasure in the Barrio: Chicano Park”. The show will be up until the 19th at City Hall. Artists included in the show are Salvador Torres, Victor Ochoa, Armando Nunez, Mario Chacon, Hector Villegas, Erik de la Rosa, Ricardo Islas, Cesar Castaneda, German Corrales, Joel Carrillo, Alejandro Meraz Chichiketokotl, Isaias Crol, Todd Stands, and Ron Sheehan. Also involved are community collaborators Jorge Mendoza, Chris Zertuche, Tommie Camarillo, Victor Carter, and Max Bojorquez.

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