The second phase of “Watsonville Brillante,” a five-year community art project spearheaded by local organization Community Arts Empowerment, kicked off last week.
Another 1,200-square-foot mosaic featuring the artwork of Watsonville-born artist Juan Fuentes is being situated on the six-story garage adjoining the Watsonville Civic Plaza. The piece, titled “El Cielo,” depicts a man reaching up through a tree to pick a single apple.
Community Arts Empowerment Executive Director Kathleen Crocetti said that installation is “right on schedule,” and credits the hard work of local young people who participated in the organization’s summer camp. Twelve high schoolers came to the Muzzio Mosaic Arts Center a few days per week to help with the mosaic. The participants also worked on their own pieces to bring home, and were treated to dinner every night.
“Several of these kids … they are babysitters for their families, watching their siblings when their parents work,” Crocetti said. “So I think it was really fun for them to be away from home, with their peers, listening to music … and just being a part of something.”
After the summer camp, a handful of community volunteers stepped up to help in the mosaic’s completion. In total, 22 people helped with the fabrication of “El Cielo.” That was a huge reduction from the 180 people who worked on the first panel, “Strawberry Picker,” earlier this year.
“We have to thank everyone for their dedication … for really giving their time and effort,” Crocetti said.
Rinaldi Tile and Marble of Pajaro have been installing “Watsonville Brillante” free of charge, something Crocetti said has been “a huge gift.”
“It’s a big sacrifice for them,” she said. “They’re short on crews … but are still pulling crews in to do this. We are super appreciative of that.”
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Community Arts Empowerment has been looking for ways to remain active in the community. The limited-capacity summer camp did just that. However, since more restrictive state rules have gone into effect, the organization has no plans for fall camps.
Instead, they are currently working on building a “traveling workstation” which can be brought to farmers markets and other outdoor events. The station will be the same size as the work table at Muzzio Park, with drawers holding tiles, safety materials and other items. With the station, the community can join in with fabricating the next phase of “Watsonville Brillante.”
“We’re really excited about it,” Crocetti said. “Even when Covid-19 ends, we can keep using it … bring it to high schools, senior centers, the Strawberry Festival. It’ll be a great thing for the community.”
“El Cielo” was voted for by the community along with two other pieces by Fuentes, who intentionally left out any cultural markers on the apple picker.
“The image is of a universal man. Everyone can see themselves in it,” Crocetti said.
Community Arts Empowerment is still looking for local artists to submit work to be featured on the horizontal sides of the garage.
Email [email protected] by the end of November for consideration.
For more information visit communityartsempowerment.org.