cesar chavez middle school mural
A new four-panel mural, created by Watsonville artist Yermo Aranda, area students and others, was unveiled at Cesar Chavez Middle School May 25. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

A new outdoor mural was unveiled at Cesar Chavez Middle School May 25, a joint effort between Watsonville artist Yermo Aranda, area students, instructors and others.

The four-panel mural, roughly 25-by-40-feet, depicts scenes from indigenous people and a multistage chronology of the life of Cesar Chavez, an organizer of the United Farm Workers.  

Yermo Aranda cesar chavez middle school mural
Watsonville artist Yermo Aranda pays thanks to those who supported the mural project. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

One panel includes an image of Larry Itliong, a Filipino American labor organizer and civil rights activist. He was also one of the founders of the UFW, which orchestrated the 1965-66 Delano grape strike and boycott and he worked in concert with Chavez.

Scenes also show Chavez when his image was used on a U.S Postal stamp, on the cover of TIME magazine and of his time in the U.S. Navy. Another scene shows workers using the famed “short-handed hoe,” a tool now banned because its use led to health-damaging stoop labor issues.

“We’re so lucky to have such a well-known, expert artist like Yermo who contributes to our community,” said Michelle Rodiguez, superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District. 

She went on to explain how Aranda made sure the work stood up as a legacy of all the people involved in its creation. 

Aranda said students from Pajaro High School, under the guidance of Martha Vega, and students in the art class of Patricia Sotarello at Cesar Chavez Middle School also worked on the piece.

“I was really happy that I could go into such detail of Cesar Chavez’s life,” Aranda said. “Usually I am so limited in depicting someone who stood up for people’s lives and this mural gave room for that.”

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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