By Pablo J. Sáinz
The Logan Heights Branch of the San Diego Public Library is within walking distance of two elementary schools and a middle school.
That is why Youth Services Librarian Mariana G. Gonzalez said that the recent installation of the Aztec Brewing Company Rathskeller Collection in different spaces of the Logan Heights Branch Library will encourage a love of art among Barrio Logan children.
“Our children have art work easily available,” she said. “These students will benefit from seeing original art made in their community. They’re from Logan, this is their community.”
The Aztec Brewing Company Rasthkeller Collection comes to the Logan Heights Branch Library after a grassroots effort of Barrio Logan artists and residents was successful in preserving the artwork after the Aztec Brewing Company, a traditional, historical brewery that was located on Main St. The buildings were demolished in 1990 and the rathskeller collection was donated to the City of San Diego.
The artwork features two colorful murals by Jose Moya del Pino, a Spanish artists who shows a clear influence from Mexican muralists, such as Diego Rivera. It also includes paintings by American artist Eugene Taylor, ceiling beams, beam caps, and stained glass windows, among other art.
The City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture celebrated the installation of the Aztec Brewing Company art at the Logan Heights Branch Library after its December 19th meeting there.
“These murals are vibrant and alive in the community. These murals are to be celebrated and welcome back to the community,” said Larry Baza, board chair for the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. “These murals are a symbol of what remains of our past. It’s a homecoming.”
Victoria Hamilton, who was executive director of the Commission for Arts and Culture during the restoration process, said that it feels great to see the murals and paintings back in Barrio Logan.
District 8 Councilmember David Alvarez toured the library viewing all the artwork.
“I’m very excited,” said Alvarez, who grew up in Barrio Logan. “For many in our community there was a fight to maintain pieces in our community. This is a reminded that there’s an incredible quality of art in our community.
Alvarez said that these murals, paintings, and artwork, can become another stop in the thousands of tourists who come to Barrio Logan to admire the Chicano Park murals.
“I really hope so. There are a lot of artistic activities happening here, and this will become an anchor, an attraction,” he said.
For Dana Springs, executive director for the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the restoration and installation of the Aztec Brewing Company artwork in the Logan Heights branch is a victory for all San Diegans who love art.
“I was in tears when I saw the restored art. It is beautiful. This is a source of community, and civic pride,” she said.
Springs said that about 80 percent of all the art retrieved from the Aztec Brewing Company was restored and installed in the library. Many of the pieces in the remaining 20 percent might be restored and brought back to Barrio Logan.
She added that many weren’t restored because they “were in such state of disrepair” that it wasn’t possible at this time to restore them.
Earlier this fall, Chicano Park muralist Salvador Torres was questioning the city and the commission about some alledged missing pieces in the Aztec Brewing Company art. He made emphasis on an Aztec calendar. He even suggested that the pieces might have been sold by the city.
During the community celebration, Torres declined to comment.
Springs, on the other hand, said that “we have not sold anything.”
She went on to explain that the commission has documented everything that it received from the art donation, and all documentation regarding the Aztec Brewing Company collection is available upon request.
The Logan Heights Branch of the San Diego Public Library is located on 567 So. 28th St., San Diego.