Whitewashing the Santora Building of Its Community History


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Santora Mural Whitewashing Begins (non-artist's conception)

Non-artist’s conception of the early stages of the sneak-attack whitewashing of the Santora Building’s basement Community Mural.

Santana Artist Alicia Rojas has released a open letter to the new landlord of the Santora Building, who over the holiday season whitewashed a mural created by many artists who have made the building the center of their local creative culture.

Open letter to Mr. Jakosky,

The Santora resident artists woke up today to a sad reality. The Santora Community Mural had been whitewashed last night, because apparently the new vision for the building doesn’t align with who we are as artists and as a community.

Here is what your decision means to many of us:  a lack of respect to what is; a sense that we need to be whitewashed; an act so callous and detached to the soul and heart of the village, its artists and their art.

The Mural was painted during the 84th birthday celebration of the building. It was a work of art done by many artists made for the community, quickly becoming one of the most photographed murals in the City. We even had the Mayor and City council pose in front of it.  A part of our history is now white, erased. Muralisim is an important part of who we are as artists. Murals preserve history, tell stories. Murals are collaborative work. So I have to wonder: is who we are so bad to you that we need to be whitewashed?

We are proud of who we are and what we offer to this City and our community of Santaneros.  Many of us have been resident artists for over a decade at the Santora. This is our home.  These are our walls. This is our church.

What does it mean to you to support artists here? Holding the key to the building is one thing, but having inclusivity and building community is what needs to be addressed urgently here. We are not just tenants here; we are the heart of this place we have survived extreme economic hardship due to the recession and the lack of real support for artists. We have maintained our galleries with hard work and now we find ourselves being “spruced up” because somehow our art might not reflect the vision you have for the Santora. I ask you this: did you come here to just sterilize us into boring, already-done retail spaces? Or did you come here because you found something worthwhile? Do you want to add or do you want to wash? We don’t want to be Laguna Beach; we already are Santana.

For many years we took it upon ourselves to paint, to clean to buy supplies for the building because the previous owner didn’t care and now it seems that you don’t care either in the most insulting of ways. You don’t care to know what we think or how we feel about the changes you are dictating with out consulting the community of artists who have resided here for over a decade.

So where do we go from here? I suggest a meeting is in order with the resident artists so you can listen to who we are. I will be happy to organize an artist forum where we can maybe come into an understanding about your plans and how we can work together best.

Lets start by understanding each other, which can only be achieved if there is a genuine feeling of cooperation. I hold hope that the lack of awareness can be remedied and that this episode can be a catalyst for us to start a real relationship together. We can only hold hope that you want to be a part of our community, not destroy it.

Here are some links about the history of the mural, the building and us artists.

Looking forward to your reply Mr. Jakosky.

And to you all community and resident artists cc’d here, this is a call for Unity. Let your art and voices shine!

“The highest, the most logical, the purest 
form of painting is the mural. It is, too, the most disinterested form, for it
cannot be made a matter of private gain: it cannot be hidden away for the
benefit of a certain privileged few. It is for the people. It is for all.” Jose Clemete Orozco

With love and art!

Alicia Rojas
Community Artist

Like many admirers of Santa Ana’s artistic scene I’ve been prepared to welcome Mr. Jakowsky to this historically significant building with open arms.

But — I’ve also been prepared not to.  We’ll see what comes out of all of this.


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.