The 559 Mural Project is a collective of activists advocating for artists and the arts to address racial injustice and social & economic inequities in the rural communities in Fresno County specifically through mural art and community dialogue.
Our project will start in the City of Selma which already has a strong mural presence in the downtown area. We plan to build upon those existing efforts by painting murals in the neighborhoods that have been [economically] neglected, such as Selma's El Barrio. In each community we will 1) identify these neighborhoods, 2) develop relationships with key stakeholders, 3) organize, and 4) begin to execute mural(s) with the help of our community partners. The rural communities we are interested in beyond Selma are Fowler, Kingsburg, Parlier, Reedley, and Sanger. Together our goal is to create socially conscious and culturally relevant art that can become a focal point for a community conversation around racial justice and social & economic equity.
We hope that the murals will become a living part of the community and act as reminders and catalysts for the public to develop creative solutions to move the needle forward on change. To celebrate the completion of these murals, we will host facilitated community events with experts from Fresno State and other local institutions and organizations to help educate our neighbors on how they can become civically engaged and push for change at a systems level. Please stay tuned for our upcoming community dialogue in 2021!
In the aftermath of the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain and all the countless others who lost their lives due to police brutality and institutionalized racism we are in solidarity with the #blacklivesmovement and all of our communities that have been and continue to be oppressed.
As community practitioners, we are committed to creating an organization that is guided by policies that authentically improve our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (JEDI) practices. We strive to be unapologetically anti-racist and will continue to listen and learn as we do our work to bring awareness about systemic racism in our rural communities.
The Fresno Arts Council provides us general support such as resources, networking, promotion and is our fiscal receiver.
Reach out to rural communities in Fresno County who may be interested in a mural.
Develop relationships with key stakeholders and get buy-in for a socially conscious and culturally relevant mural.
Meet with respective artists to discuss mural imagery and obtain buy-in from them as well as the community. Again, the murals must be socially conscious and culturally relevant.
We are engaging in grassroots fundraising, Kickstarter, selling merchandise, and going after grants once we obtain 501c3 status through a fiscal sponsor.
CVAC volunteers will help with any necessary engagement and or support to execute each mural.
Mural Unveiling & Facilitated Dialogue
Invite experts to have discussions about racial injustice and social & economic inequity by taking a deeper look into systemic racism and past/present policies that have negatively impacted communities of color.
Mural Description: Our Mural theme is centered on De Colores, a popular traditional Spanish-language folk song widely recognized among the Latino and Spanish speaking cultures. De Colores is a song that celebrates all of life's creation, from the joyful to the sorrowful, and evokes the beauty of a diverse world. This message is delivered in the imagery of Chicano and Mexican-American civil rights activists which includes Dolores Huerta and César Chavez, of the 1960s and '70s, to demonstrate that the fight for equity and justice is an ongoing journey. From these activists, we can draw the line to the struggles of 2020, with the Black Lives Matter movement and the magnified inequities that communities of color are facing in the midst of a global pandemic.
List of Donors:
La Estrella Market, Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, Bobby Salazar’s Salsa, Fox Drug Store, Selma Home Depot, Tower Yoga, Marisa Andrade, The Banks Family, Heleni Maria Buchelli, The Bustinza Family, Amy E. Campbell, The Chen Harris Family, La Familia Corona Gómez, Doreen D., Sadie Davis, Celia DeLozier, Gabe & Betina, The Gomez Family, Phillip M. Gonzales, Selwa Husien, Karem & Enrique, Kassee Johnson, L.M., Mankin & Pauline Mak, Nazario P. Martinez, Jr., Olga G. Martinez, Yesenia Martinez, Selena & Erica Martinez Mak, Ernesto Palomino, Elena Chávez Quezada, Sean Reis, Sirina Resendez & Kiddos, Nick Sahota, Keanna Louise Salazar, Sharmila Girvar Singh, La Familia Soto Hernández, Trang Tran, Kristene Vasquez, Vicki & Mike, and Marianne Vivien
In partnership with Movimiento Latino TV, hosted by Ricardo Castorena Garcia and in collaboration with Professor Phillip M. Gonzales with our fellow partner artists, join us for a robust conversation about the Chicano Muralismo Movement and the issues being addressed during its inception drawing to today's issues of racial injustice, socio-economic inequity, and immigration policy- and how this impacts the Central Valley.
World Traveler, Lover of all cultures, Justice Advocate, Communications Enthusiast, and On-Camera Personality
Keanna Louise Salazar was born and raised in Selma, California where she received most of her adolescent schooling. From a young age, circumstances moved her back and forth from Selma to Los Angeles for many years. With the foundation of great values and family coming from her small town, it was being exposed to big city living and constant change, where Keanna gained a liking and hunger for adventure. It is also where she was exposed to infinite cultural diversity and finally felt abundantly accepted as a mixed-race child. After 15 plus years in Los Angeles, Keanna’s journey moved her to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands for 2 years and Manhattan, New York for 9 years with extended worldwide travel in between. She finally returned to her home county of Fresno, Ca in October of 2019 to be closer to family and learn more of her Mexican and Black-American heritage.
After living her adult years in environments where racism seemed less of an issue and multi-cultural awareness was encouraged, Keanna felt an apparent difference once becoming acclimated to her home again. The lack of diversity alone was enough to make her feel isolated, along with blatant racist behavior and reactions from locals in response to the protests that emerged from the George Floyd murder, which were shocking to her. Keanna felt compelled to become educated about racial injustice and socio-economic inequities and find a way to make a difference. Having always been passionate about fighting for justice in any capacity, and ready to finally give back to the community, Central Valley Allies for Change and The 559 Mural Project presented themselves at the perfect time.
Keanna received a Bachelors of Science in Communication with a focus on Public Relations from the CUNY BA and completed several internships in television and radio, but now focusing on public relations. With a natural passion for people and communication, Keanna uses strong interpersonal skills to bring awareness to the non-profit and build relationships with key individuals for fundraising and collaboration. During the day Keanna creates content and manages our social media pages across several platforms. She also contributes to creative brainstorming, planning, coordinating, and promoting our events. She couldn’t be more excited to represent The 559 Mural Project and its mission to make a difference in the Central Valley and beyond.
Growing up in Selma, a small rural town in California’s Central Valley, shaped Selena's early worldview of inequity and injustice. Selena knew it was related to the lack of opportunity for people of color and underrepresented groups. However, it was until later in life that she would come to appreciate the role systemic racism and historical (& current) racist policies are at the root of disenfranchised/marginalized communities and thus keeping people of color from access to wealth, excellent healthcare, and superb education. Thus, it became abundantly clear after graduate school that her professional calling is to help solve social, racial, economic, and environmental inequities through movement building, community partnerships, and economic revitalization. Selena is both energized and inspired by the mission at The 559 Mural Project.
Selena received a Bachelors degree in Cellular Biology at UC Davis receiving a prestigious research scholarship, UCLEADs to do scientific research. She then went to the University of California, San Francisco where she worked as a research associate in a biochemistry lab and then a genetics lab. In 2008, when her family was diagnosed with a hereditary cancer condition known as Lynch Syndrome, Selena became a patient advocate. She started an educational initiative increasing awareness about the condition among the medical community and underserved communities of color. She also ran several half marathons across the US raising thousands of dollars.
Selena intersects many diverse identities including Mexican-American, daughter of migrant workers, Lesbian, and a carrier of a hereditary cancer condition all of which have played a significant role in how she interacts with people, builds relationships, and approaches situations. Selena received a dual Masters degree in Business and Public Administration from Presidio Graduate School.
Sirina Renee Resendez (Lombera) is a powerful and dangerous woman! Her life slogan is “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” She was born and raised in Selma, California until the age of 13 when she moved to Kingsburg, CA. In 2001, she graduated from Kingsburg High School. Sirina has three amazing children – her pride and joy who definitely keep her busy.
In the re-awakening of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Sirina was compelled to action. She rolled up her sleeves in dramatic fashion to hold a space in her town of Kingsburg by organizing a Unity in the Park Rally to take a stand against the murdering of Black Americans and to be in solidarity with the movement. This event brought a group of valley friends and community members together which inspired the creation of the Central Valley Allies for Change, a grassroots organization, in which Sirina is a Co-Founder.
Sirina brings four years of experience as a behavioral health/mental health case manager and social worker, providing services in Fresno and Kings counties. She is currently an active board member and co-facilitator (Mending the Soul & Your Choice 4 Life classes) of 5 Stones Open Door, a local faith-based non-profit organization in Fresno, CA.
She earned a Bachelors degree in Social Work from the California State University of Fresno in 2016. During her college career, she interned for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – Fresno branch for one year. During her time with WILPF, she gained awareness of social injustices locally, nationally, and internationally and her passion has been ever ignited. She has a huge heart and compassion for others and is bringing her life experience and passion for racial and social justice to The 559 Mural Project.
Photo Credit: Landmark Photography
Partner Artists 2021
(Selma's Salazar Community Center: Educate to Elevate)
In my work, I have used my love of art to process life experiences. Each piece is a study of real-life and is each a glimpse into the realm of my personal thoughts and feelings. Though they reflect some reality, these pieces also help the viewer fall deeper into the imagination of a young Latina woman in the Central Valley, myself. Most of my artworks are representations of how I feel about myself, others, and concepts of life. I hope to continue expressing my life through the paint to further tell my story.
Brandi Nuse-Villegas is an artist based in the Central Valley of California. Brandi’s work explores the nature of the connections that make up the human experience and the deep desire to restore broken connections. The invitation to touch her artwork is a strong conceptual and experiential component of that exploration. Her art forms include murals, assemblage, installation, photography, printmaking, drawing, and painting. Currently, she is working on portraiture in social justice contexts.
Nicole Jimenez is a self-taught artist from Selma, California who has participated and competed in many exhibits across the Central Valley. Some of the places her paintings have been shown include the Fresno Fair, Fresno City Hall, Fresno Art Hop, Yosemite International Airport, Reedley's Annual Art Hop, as well as past exhibits in Hanford, Kingsburg, and Modesto.
As a child, she drew artistic inspiration from watching cartoons and drawing pictures from comic books; after high school, she began to independently study the artists of the Italian Renaissance, and these subjects still continue to be a major influence on her work. Her most current subjects and inspiration for art have been her own family and Mexican-American heritage.
‘If you want change, you have to be a part of it. You can’t just sit back and expect somebody else to do it for you.’ That’s what I would say.” an interview with Vida en el Valle. That is what Vicki has dedicated her life to - to community and making a difference.
Vicki dreamed of being a diplomat studying at the University of Madrid and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. But during graduate studies that all changed while taking dance classes in Guanajuato at La Escuela Superior de Danza Mexicana. What started as a hobby turned into a fulfilling and rewarding career in education, performing arts, and social activism.
Vicki received a Bachelors degree from Fresno State and a Masters degree from Fresno Pacific University and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, receiving four teaching credentials including dance. After her studies, she returned to her roots, the Central Valley, and began teaching in many of the rural towns in Fresno County impacting many students' lives.
Many of us may know Vicki for her pioneering efforts in the performing arts at Selma High School where she taught for 35 years. There she developed the long-standing & renowned Los Paisanos, recognized as an authentic Mexican folkloric group nationally and internationally. In 2018 Vicki Filgas received an award from Arte Americas and the Danzantes Del Valle Coalition recognizing her pioneering work in Traditional Mexican Folkloric Dance in public schools. We see that inspiring legacy thriving at the Centro de Folklor in Selma.
Ome Lopez is the co-founder of Dulce UpFront a multimedia art collective in Fresno creating a community through conscious art and safe spaces for youth and their families. Ome was born and raised in Sanger, CA receiving a Bachelors in Social Work and a Master's degree in Public Administration.
People are at the heart of Ome's work as an artist, activist, and cultural healer through DJing. Ome was recently featured by The Luz Collective on Instagram, "[DJs]are like alchemists. They change the mood [and] the environment. They help people find their joy in their lives."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ome's DJ services were immediately canceled. She turned that negative into a positive and began doing DJ sets on FaceBook LIVE for the community, lifting spirits up as we all navigated this new reality. Word got out, (thanks Liz Gonzalez of KMPH 26 News) and soon Ome was getting booked to DJ virtual events for notable non-profits throughout California and most recently with the Leadership Council.
After the consecutive murders of black life under police authority, Ome's Dulce UpFront got to work and organized the #LiftEveryVoice Fresno Mural Tour to fight racial injustice and support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In a matter of 8 weeks, the artists painted 14 beautiful murals - an amazing accomplishment.
Phillip Martin Gonzales
Professor of Chicano Arts & Expression Studies, Community Practitioner, and Mentor
Professor Gonzales was born in Pomona, California, and was raised in La Verne, California. He spent a lot of his childhood in Strathmore, California, at his grandparent's “Rancho”. He went to California State University, Long Beach, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chicano Studies. He then attended the University of California, Irvine, and earned a Single Subject Teaching Credential. He also earned a Pupil Personnel Services Credential at San Jose State University a Master of Arts in Counseling Education and Fresno at the Pacific University.
He has been an educator and heavily involved in community engagement for over 40 years, primarily in Fresno and Madera counties. He has taught many students as early as junior high to college students, while at times serving as a student counselor. Professor Gonzales currently teaches Chicano Artistic Expression classes at California State University, Fresno where he has been teaching for eleven years, however, is "semi-retired". In 2006, Professor Gonazales was elected as a Fellow for the Kika De La Garza – Fellowship Program for Hispanic Serving Institutions in Washington D.C. He has been a part of the development, implementation, and then coordinator Madera Center College Advantage Program or MCCAP and was integral in developing and directing the MAYA Leadership Conferences from 2000-2009.
Professor Gonzales has served as a member of several boards having the role as President. These boards include: Board of Trustees for Spring Valley School District, Madera County, State President of the Association of Mexican-American Educators, President of the Board of Directors for Arte Americas, Fresno, California, Board of Directors for Central Valley Ronald McDonald House Charities, and presently he is on the board of Directors for Youth Leadership Institute.
He and his wife of 35 years have two daughters both graduates of the University of California. He loves to travel and has visited 20 countries. He also enjoys playing the guitar, woodworking, and continues to do research related to family history.
Eddie O. Rodriguez
Artist, Consultant, Entrepreneur,
Educator, and Activist
Eddie O. Rodriguez was born in, San Jose, California, to two immigrant parents. Eddie got his first introduction to the arts at an early age from his mother. His mother was really good at drawing and by 8th he decided to pursue art as a full-time career and was super dedicated to this work getting support from the principal to create a specialized curriculum. During his high school education, he soon began to win awards and received several scholarships, the most significant receiving a full-ride scholarship to fund his undergraduate education.
Eddie attended The Academy of Arts University (AAU) in San Francisco, CA. He reached out to several directors in his concentration to develop a modified curriculum that focused on interests. He won several awards from his university and began to work in his field while still in school. He received his BFA from AAU with high honors, in 2008. He was immediately hired by his university upon graduation. He simultaneously began his gallery career with much success, specializing in photorealism. He went on to teach at several schools, in the US and the UAE. He trained the art faculty of The American University in Dubai, on drawing. He has shown in several galleries throughout California.
In, late 2019, Rodriguez, began an effort to help Central Valley artists, along with artists from other areas, to show their work at galleries, and to bridge the gap between the art market in the Central Valley and San Francisco. He was inducted into two art collectives. In the process of forging these new relationships and gaining experience as a muralist.
The hardships of 2020 have revealed the importance of art in our societies, along with the coping and healing qualities it possesses. Rodriguez has partnered with two other Merced artists to strengthen the arts in Merced and was recently appointed to the Merced City Arts and Culture Commission, all of which will have an increased impact in the arts in Merced.
Our intent is to paint six murals (maybe more) which could total up to $60,000 depending on the size of the wall. But we are raising funds one mural at a time. Please help us to raise $10,000 for our next mural project and community dialogue piece.