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For Young Artists, Pride on Display with Latest Mural

Project at Santa Barbara Junior High School gives young artists opportunity to transform hallway into work of art

The walls lining a hallway between the quad and the auditorium at Santa Barbara Junior High School are no longer a drab cream color. They have been transformed into swirling, cobalt waves, thanks to a dozen young artists.

The floor-to-ceiling mural was unveiled on Wednesday, and is the impressive product of the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department’s Arts Alliance Program, which provides free after-school mentoring aimed at deterring young people from painting graffiti and vandalism.

The installation of other murals around town, such as the one at the Westside Boys and Girls Club, has substituted local art for blank walls that were once hounded by graffiti.

Longtime local artist Manuel Unzueta coordinated this year’s Santa Barbara Arts Alliance Program and two youth artists, Miguel Rodriguez and Danny Meza, and led a group of 17 student artists in the design, creation and installation of a mural paying tribute to the Chumash tribe, and another mural depicting some of history’s most important scientists.

Twelve-year-old Jasmine Linares spoke about the mural, which details dolphins and other sea creatures frolicking in the waves pouring out of a basket held by the Chumash.

Opposite the Chumash mural, the wall showcases some of the world's most famous scientists, some more well-known such as Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan, as well as some more obscure but still influential ones, includng Mae Jamison, the first female African-American astronaut.

Linares worked on the mural five days a week over the summer and into the school year.

"It's so amazing to see all of the work we did come together," she said.

When the program began, Linares and the other young artists took a tour to see Unzueta's other murals around town, and Linares said she was "shocked" to see how beautiful they were, and that her group would be producing similar works.

She started out as a student at Franklin Elementary, and is now at the junior high and will be walking that hallway everyday.

In addition to Linares, the other artists on the project were Miguel Alvarez, Murrina Ayers, Nicholas Dominguez, Gloria Garcia, Miguel Moreno, Alexandra Hallman, Ashley Hernandez, Damian Hernandez, Isabel Meza, Joseph Padilla, Jenny Penaloza, Alexandra Real, Ivericka Rios, Rocelia Rodriguez, Maria Del Carmen Sanchez, Maria Tapia and Marisol Torres.

Principal Lito Garcia, Mayor Helene Schneider, Superintendent Dave Cash, Parks and Parks & Recreation Director Nancy Rapp as well as Incredible Children’s Art Network Director Jeffry Walker were all there to congratulate the young artists on their contribution to their school, and to their city.

The program was funded by the Community Development Human Services Committee and the Incredible Children’s Art Network, which also provided materials and other supplies.

The Community Arts Grant Program with funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission also contributed to the project.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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