Andy Lopez mural dedicated at Roseland Village development
A long-awaited public mural memorializing one of Sonoma County’s most traumatic events, the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, has been installed at its new home in southwest Santa Rosa, on the site of one the most ambitious urban renewal projects in a heavily Latino part of the city.
The mural depicts strong and colorful images of Mexican-American culture and day-to-day life, combined with the familiar, now-iconic image of Lopez, a Santa Rosa teenager who was shot by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy in 2013 as he walked through his Moorland Avenue neighborhood carrying an Airsoft BB gun the deputy reportedly mistook for a real weapon.
The mural’s creator, Santa Rosa artist Mario Uribe, said the mural represents healing and the rebirth of the larger Roseland community, a theme that’s very much driving the Roseland Village project, a mixed-use development on Sebastopol Road that calls for an open plaza, housing, a civic building and market.
“Out of grief comes solidarity and unity,” Uribe said Thursday, as he and another volunteer put up the 12 plywood panels that form the mural, which stretches more than 48 feet. “The art that I do, I always try to make it positive and healing.”
The mural, installed on the northeast corner of the concrete foundation of the old Albertson’s grocery store, one of a number of temporary improvements done to spruce up the space before the redevelopment project takes off.
The arts improvements are spearheaded by Santa Rosa-based Artstart, which was hired by the Sonoma County Community Development Commission, the owner of the property and lead agency for Roseland Village development.
Both Artstart and the commission are scheduled to host a 5 p.m. public unveiling of the mural today, on what would have been Lopez’s 17th birthday.
Uribe, Artstart’s creative director, and Artstart lead artist Daniel Doughty, on Thursday drilled each panel to a large wooden frame that had been previously mounted to the concrete foundation.
From the left, the mural includes a depiction of a folkloric dancer in bright flowing dress, and continues with portraits of children and a youth playing soccer. In the center are four panels of Lopez, which Uribe previously painted, with the image of the boy fading in each consecutive panel.
Moving to the right are images that represent the aftermath of the fatal shooting: the numerous public protests following Lopez’s death; the creation of Andy’s Park at the site of the shooting and community outreach on the part of the Sheriff’s Office.
The last panel on the right is of an Aztec dancer, also a proud symbol of Mexican-American culture.
The progression of panels is a statement that only through healing can a community survive such tragedy and return to a sense of normalcy, without forgetting what happened, Uribe said.
“Generosity, compassion, forgiveness. That’s what brings us together, that’s what ties us to humanity,” Uribe said. “It’s not that we don’t want justice. We want justice. We don’t ever want this to happen again.”
Suzanne Saucy, Artstart program coordinator, said funding for the mural and other arts projects at the site came from the California Arts Council. The mural, she said, is part of a larger effort to bring the Roseland Village site to life and to reflect the significance of the 2013 shooting for the local community.
“The point of the mural is to memorialize Andy and to inspire healing and recognize the strength of the community and its culture,” she said.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @renofish.