Story and Photo by David Avalos
Lead Muralist: Felipe Adame. Assistants: Glory G. Sanchez and Frank Galindo III. Contributing Artist: Guillermo Chavez Rosette. Specifications: Nova Color Acrylic Paint on original mural, 2 coats of Liquitex Gloss Medium Varnish, Permashield Sacrificial Graffiti barrier.
Though Vidal Aguirre died days after his fiftieth birthday in 1997, his murals continue to participate in everyday rituals and annual ceremonies at San Diego’s Chicano Park. For example, Aguirre’s Mayan ball game mural watches over the players at the Park’s well-used handball court.
Speeches and cultural performances occur each Chicano Park Day Celebration under the Kiosko ceiling’s Founding of Tenochtitlan mural painted in 1978 by Aguirre, Adame and Tony De Vargas, now deceased. Adame who introduced Aguirre to Chicano Park remembers his friend as someone dearly loved by everyone.
Because of their mural collaborations the Chicano Park Steering Committee requested that Adame take the lead in repainting Aguirre’s Archer. He will also repaint the Kiosko’s ceiling mural beginning in January 2012 as part of Phase Three of the Chicano Park Revitalization/Restoration Project.
Adame feels the mural’s restoration has been a spiritual blessing for Aguirre’s family who are honored that his work is being revitalized. His sister, Marta Aguirre, provided Vidal’s photograph to the muralists and Glory G. Sanchez used it to create her memorial portrait of Vidal Aguirre on the side of the mural pillar’s cross piece.
Once after warily climbing down three different ladders to Chicano Parks’ terra firma I found Felipe Adame’s empty wheelchair dutifully waiting for him to climb down those same three ladders when his day’s work was completed. “You could say I’m the first artist to climb out of a wheelchair and up on a scaffold to finish a mural,” he tells me. “As much of a struggle as it is to get up and down, I’m motivated by my love of painting,” he assures me. That and his love of the people of Chicano Park.