Friends of Santa Barbara muralist Manuel Unzueta have established a fund to help with his family’s recovery from a devastating March 1 fire.
Unzueta lost much of his life’s work in the blaze, which broke out in the middle of the night at his mother’s home in the 1000 block of East De la Guerra Street. The fire destroyed a wooden out-building that contained an estimated 1,000 paintings, works of art and records from his 50-year career.
“Everything was gone in 15 minutes,” he told Noozhawk.
No one was injured but several of the family’s pet birds and rabbits died. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Friends have since set up a fund for to accept contributions for Unzueta at Union Bank, formerly Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. Checks should be made payable to Milagro Fire Fund with “Unzueta” in the memo line. Donations are not tax-deductible.
Unzueta, 64, is a muralist, artist and lecturer in Santa Barbara City College’s Chicano Studies program. For more than 40 years, he’s volunteered with the City of Santa Barbara to design and paint murals with young artists and to help with local beautification efforts.
Although he said he had planned to donate a large part of his collection to UC Santa Barbara, Unzueta was saving many of his paintings to provide a financial future for his two children, Annette, 24, and Manuel, 17.
SBCC President Lori Gaskin said members of the school’s Extended Opportunities Programs have several fundraisers in the works to help out Unzueta, who has been a longstanding EOP faculty adviser.