City Times

Mural ‘speaks life and love’ for Gonzalez’ family

The+Diana+Gonzalez+mural+was+finally+unveiled+to+honor+her+memory+on+Nov.+1.+Chris+Handloser%2C+City+Times.
The Diana Gonzalez mural was finally unveiled to honor her memory on Nov. 1. Chris Handloser, City Times.

The Diana Gonzalez mural was finally unveiled to honor her memory on Nov. 1. Chris Handloser, City Times.

The Diana Gonzalez mural was finally unveiled to honor her memory on Nov. 1. Chris Handloser, City Times.

Christopher Handloser

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Celebrants of Dia de los Muertos invite the souls of departed loved ones to return for a visit. For the loved ones of Diana Gonzalez, this year’s holiday delivered a bittersweet victory. For the City College students who toiled to bring life to the mural commemorating her, it was a day of progress.

The family of Gonzalez, a City College student murdered on campus in 2010, arrived late to the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. They came straight from the courthouse with the news that a judge had finally approved their adoption of Gonzalez’s now four-year-old daughter, Chrystal.

The parents, Jose and Concepcion, cousin Beatriz, and Chrystal last viewed the mural partially completed in September. They painted the approximately 25-foot by 12-foot mural for more than an hour with students and faculty in the Gorton Quad.

Seeing it now in vibrant fruition at the Centro Cultural —– gracefully displayed amid the many ornate shrines —- brought warmth to the precious memory of their beloved departed.

“As long as we know that we’re not alone in our daily remembrance of her,” expressed cousin Beatriz when referring to the turnout that day.

For the students who created the mural, unveiling it at the cultural center, as opposed to somewhere at City College, was a fitting progeny of sorts after original plans to hang it on campus were held up due to a misunderstanding between the students and the administration.

“Centro Cutural was started by among others, Chicano City College students, who were trying to be able to express themselves more freely than they were on campus at the time,” explained Visionary Feminist member and unofficial emcee, Arny Brenes. “So I think it’s pretty much the perfect venue where we’re able to express ourselves fully.”

The celebration beckoned onlookers of the mural to peruse the monuments of photographs and sculptures of the Dia de los Muertos exhibit, among the numerous styling of “Catrinas” and “Calaveras,” Mexican figurines used traditionally to entice visits from spirits.

Jesi Gutierrez, a BEAT member and ally to VF, co-designed the portrayal of Gonzalez. “The mural speaks life and love in this space and now has a home for a while.”

Interim City College President Lynn Neault and Associated Student Government Vice President Michael Roderick were among those who joined them in sharing sentiments surrounding the creation of the mural and the tragedy itself.

Addressing the family, Neault stated, “I just want you to know that this will never, never leave the hearts of those of us who were around to experience this. Diana will always be in our hearts and always be important.”

Neault thanked everyone for their patience while they continue to work towards finding a home for the mural on campus. The students involved want the same.

“My intention has always been for this mural to be on campus, and specifically for Diana Gonzalez and all survivors and victims of domestic violence,” expressed Brenes as the gathering was winding down Nov. 2.

The mural will remain at the Centro Cutural until the end of the year, at which point all parties involved hope to have found a permanent home on campus.

The exhibit hours are Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. (closed Monday).

The Centro Cultural is located at 2004 Park Blvd., across from the Naval Medical Center.

Contact (619) 235-6135 or visit www.centroculturaldelaraza.com for more information.

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Mural ‘speaks life and love’ for Gonzalez’ family