Ignacio Gomez received a phone call that no artist wants to receive. His artwork, the mural he painted for San Fernando’s Cesar Chavez Monument had been vandalized. Black paint appeared to have been thrown onto it. Black paint was splattered over the images of Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.
Located at the corner of Wolfskill and Truman streets, the memorial that includes a bronze statue of the late labor leader and a mural that depicts the farmworker's labor movement was designed by Gomez.
It was his son-in-law who discovered the damage after he took a friend of his to see the mural on Tuesday, June 11.
“I was heartbroken, almost in tears,” said Gomez, who immediately made phone calls to members of the Cesar Chavez commemorative committee and to fellow artists who offered to help Gomez restore the mural. However, the city moved quickly to respond and, thanks to a graffiti-resistant seal that was applied to the mural, the paint was successfully removed by Wednesday morning.
“It appears there was no long term damage to the mural,” said City Councilmember Robert Gonzales, who said he would like to have more eyes kept on the mural.
“This isn't the first time the mural has been vandalized,” Gonzales said, referencing the bronze plaque that was stolen from the monument years ago that listed those who donated to the mural. “We were the first city to proclaim a holiday for Cesar Chavez and had the largest monument created in his honor.”
Gomez echoed the need to raise money to replace the stolen plaque. He said by the time he drove out to take a look at the mural for himself, the city’s cleanup crew had already been there. He said he still plans to touch up areas of the mural that could use some brightening after years of exposure to the elements.
The locally based Cesar Chavez Commemorative Committee raised $300,000 to erect the site 15 years ago.
“I know the mural and monument means a lot to the community,” said Gomez. “We unveiled the memorial in 2004 with members of the Chavez family present.
“In this day and age, this makes me wonder why it was vandalized,” Gomez said.
Anyone who has any information regarding the defacement of the mural is encouraged to call the San Fernando Police Department at (818) 898-1267.