New murals by the Madison Park Neighborhood Park Association

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Jose Rea, executive director of GREEN-MPNA, Leonel Flores, coordinator, and students from Madison Elementary. Photo by Loretta Bailes/ el Don

Traveling east on Edinger past Main Street in Santa Ana there is a mechanics store on the left corner and a Mobil station on the right alongside a strip mall. As you continue to head east you enter the Madison Park neighborhood. Cinder block walls separate the main street from the homes. Sometimes walls have been covered by graffiti, but today there is a change. Halfway down the street on Kelson, you are hit with colorful murals on both sides. People paint beautiful green parrots and large lavender and yellow flowers on the walls. At least 20 community residents are painting.

“It’s wonderful. It makes our neighborhood look beautiful,” said Cecilia Bautista, a mom who serves on the Madison Park neighborhood parent advisory. She breaks out in a big smile. The murals span a full block on both sides of the street.  

Jose Rea, the executive director for Getting Residents Engaged in Empowering Neighborhoods – Madison Park Neighborhood Park Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the community together on environmental issues.

Rea retired from the University of California Irvine where he was Director of Medical Education for the Latino Community and a resident of Madison Park for 28 years. “Santa Ana is divided into 64 neighborhood associations,” said Rea.  In 2009 the California Endowment of the Arts picked Santa Ana as one of 14 cities to receive funding. The grant came from the Long Beach Arts Council. Part of the funding was for Long Beach artist Cody Lusby, materials, and the community-based organization.

Grant project artist Cody Lusby who came from the Long Beach Arts Council. Photo by Loretta Bailes/ el Don

 Lusby would prepare the walls and teach community volunteers how to paint the mural. “The mural project is an excellent way to build community ownership of their neighborhood,” said Lusby.

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 “He showed us some of the mural work he had done in Long Beach. We decided on a theme of clean air represented by flowers. We chose the Jacaranda tree. It represents Santa Ana, and the sanpastuchi, marigold, since we celebrate el  Dia de los Muertos. The parrots represent the migration from Mexico,” commented Rea.  

Neighbor painting the sanpastuchi marigold flower that represents el Dia de los Muertos has become a tradition in Santa Ana. Photo by Loretta Bailes/ el Don

“It was a community effort. We invited people to paint. We used Instagram, Facebook and Madison Elementary School to get volunteers. Some of us went knocking on doors in the neighborhood. All this outreach helped us successfully get volunteers,”  explained Bautista, community organizer.

Coby Lusby, the artist, showed people how to paint using a stencil.  The artist and two assistants did a power wash and cleaned the walls while the parents and children helped.  “When neighbors come together to paint a mural they feel empowered to change their environment,” he said.

“Our neighborhood is beautiful now. My daughters love walking by the murals,” said Maria Ochoa, who lives two blocks away.

The plan is to paint two more murals in the Madison Park neighborhood,

If the non-profit organization GREEN-MPNA continues to do this, Santa Ana may have a fresh new look.

Mother and daughter enjoying painting the mural. They live right around the corner. Photo by Loretta Bailes/ el Don
Brothers James and John Hong. James loved the murals. He said no more graffiti! Photo by Loretta Bailes/ el Don
Mother and daughter taking a break from painting. Photo by Loretta Bailes/ el Don
Canopy for recruiting community volunteers for the painting of the mural. Photo by Loretta Bailes/ el Don
Community volunteers feel that the painting is bringing residents together.
Photos by Loretta Bailes/ el Don
Resident volunteer who lives across the street committed to helping to improving the image of her neighborhood. Photos by Loretta Bailes/ el Don

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