I heard it in the frantic shout of a little boy yelling at his mother to slow the car down. In the reflection of his eyes you could see a…
“¿Ya terminaron con la música? Vine pa’ bailar”
The words leapt off the chapped lips of the abuelita who had just strolled up to the Pink Elephant Center wall facing Virginia Ave, right off of King Road. The DJ had packed up his equipment and left not more than a few minutes before her arrival. Only a few crumbs of pan dulce were left to acknowledge what had just taken place.
Earlier that morning, a number of artists, community leaders, and Mayfair residents gathered in front of that previously blank wall to commemorate a new mural, Zona Rosa, by Aaron De La Cruz. It was an energetic way to kick off a hazy Saturday. Folks buzzed about the grassy area in front of the mural as DJ Ozzy spun a variety of cumbia and sonidero tracks.
The commotion drew a number of neighboring residents out onto to their lawns. The folks who crossed the street were greeted with café, pan dulce, and an immersive explanation from Aaron De La Cruz himself regarding the inspiration for the piece.
A former resident of San Jose, who still remembers late night cruises down Story Road, Aaron felt a special connection to this mural, to the Mayfair neighborhood. This homegrown connection manifests itself in the striking teal of the large “408” in the center of the mural. The numbers stand resolute, beaming pillars rising up from the sea of rose pink symbols strewn across the wall.
Besides almost aching to leap off the wall into the eyes of the viewer, these colors, teal and pink, hold a special significance as well. Aaron, who normally does his work in black and white, went on to mention that
“The color usage was to pay homage to the neighborhood and especially to the Pink Elephant district. This shopping district has a ton of historical importance and the people all over San Jose made that clear to me with the stories they shared.”
However, Aaron didn’t show up to the Pink Elephant with paint cans in hand and knock on their door. The groundwork, community engagement portion of the project was executed by the Celebrate Mayfair team in conjunction with Empire Seven Studios. It was also one of 19 murals that went up during Pow Wow! San Jose’s weeklong arts, music, and culture festival during late October. Demone Carter, Project Manager for the Celebrate Mayfair initiative, explained:
“The creation of murals like Zona Rosa are an important part of Celebrate Mayfair’s strategy for community development. We aim to transform previously underutilized or blighted spaces into areas residents of the Mayfair can take pride in.”
One could feel that pride vibrating throughout the crowd on Saturday morning, along with a quiet hopefulness that more projects like Zona Rosa would continue providing opportunities to celebrate the people and history of the Mayfair community.
Although the abuelita was disappointed that she had missed the music, she did mention that she liked the mural. “Se mira bien bonita,” she said, before smiling and continuing on her way to the supermarket. She was right, it was pretty.