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“Battle of good versus evil” mural goes up in Roseland

Mayra Lopez
Written by Mayra Lopez

A struggle between light and darkness, that is what the two opposing figures on a Roseland wall show.

“The idea behind the mural was a David and Goliath story arch, not necessarily that story but more of a tale of good versus evil,” said Joshua Lawyer, who designed the mural at 883 Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa, in collaboration with local artists MJ Lindo-Lawyer and Big Hepos. 

Their newest mural is going up on the wall of the old Roseland Hardware next to the entrance of the community library, and is being created with support from Santa Rosa art nonprofit Artstart and Midpen Housing, who is one of the development investors in the Roseland Village Neighborhood Center.

The mural depicts two figures standing face-to-face in a wrestling ring. The one on the left shows an indigenous female wearing jeans and Converse, with her arms up facing a looming Lucha Libre masked wrestler, who is painted in darker, heavier tones. She stands with a halo of light emulating from, seemingly shining from within her, ready for battle.

Lindo-Lawyer and Lawyer are a couple of artists who live in the neighborhood. He would frequently see the wall and think it was the perfect canvas for a wide mural. “This is the first wall I thought of, because it’s in our community,” said Lawyer. The large, smooth wall was grey. He felt inspired to add color to it, thus the eye catching pink they choose for the mural background. The aesthetic of the mural was inspired by Roseland’s vibrant Latino community. 

The composition of the mural took about four hours. It’s inspired by a painting Lawyer created in the past. They used a projector to outline the mural, taking a usually lengthy task and completing it in an hour. 

The mural has sparked conversations on social media. Some commenters who saw a photo of the outline felt that the two individuals, an indigenous figure and the lucha libre figure were drawn to look like they were trying to fight each other and that this may misrepresent the relationship between Latino and Indigenous communities. 

According to the artists, the mural is a play on the biblical story in which David battles Goliath and has become adopted as a tale of the underdog. The mural was not meant to demonstrate communities battling against each other, the artists said. 

The mural sits on the proposed Roseland Village Neighborhood Center, a project that has been in the works for 10 years and is slated to take over the 7.5 acre plot of land where the Roseland Community Library and Dollar Tree store currently stand. The site has historically been a community gathering place, the meeting spot for protests, and where the annual Cinco de Mayo fiesta is celebrated. 

The annexation of Roseland into Santa Rosa in November 2017 changed the dynamics of the neighborhood and had begun to build resistance as the community continues to integrate into the city of Santa Rosa. In some ways the mural mirrors the story of its surrounding community, the battle of a minority group fighting against the growing potential of gentrification, said Lawyer. 

“Good has to play a role where evil almost seems unbeatable, it was going with that idea and playing with it to match the aesthetic of the community we live in,” elaborated Lawyer. 

For the artists, they hope community members take something from the mural. For Lindo-Lawyer, who has been a resident of Santa Rosa for over 20 years, she wants to use her art to “push the expectations and open conversations” in the county. “I want to inspire other artists in the area to do their style and create something different.” 

For Lawyer, it was interesting to hear other people take on a standard story arch, this timeless story. He continued: “One lady asked if it was about standing up to domestic abuse. She shared having gone through that situation and saw the mural as empowering.”

The mural will be done this Wednesday and will vanish when the development of the Roseland Village opens the way to the demotion of buildings still standing in the area.

[Versión en español]

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