Beth Tobey

​1982 Beach Flats Mural celebrated Santa Cruz history and Mexican culture

Beth Tobey @ 3/28/2016

Santa Cruz resident Ralph D’Oliveira likes to keep a low profile even though he has installed more than 100 murals in California in his 40+ year career as a mural artist.

Recently D’Oliveira contacted City Arts staff with forgotten images of the vibrant mural he created at Beach Flats Park in 1982. The mural tied the past and future together and featured jungle animals, pioneers, native tribes and Mexican culture. For the project, D’Oliveira worked with four young men from Watsonville --Terry Batad, Ruben Galvan, Troy Godfrey, and Ralph Romero – who helped paint the mural along with many neighborhood residents.

“At our first mural planning meetings we had hundreds of neighbors show up to share their ideas. It was a really fun project. We really did it for the kids.”

The installation was not uneventful. One neighbor came out every day and yelled at us “We don’t want that Mexican !#!@ on these walls!” There were also few guys that verbally harassed the crew daily –but according to D’Oliveira the boys handled really well. Most of the neighbors got involved with the painting and had a great time.

“With community projects you can’t get too uptight. A kid or somebody is going to mess something up and you have to go with it and incorporate it. That’s just part of the process. It’s really about building community.”

D’Oliveira has done over a 100 murals in California and others around the world. He has done dozens of projects with schools and school children. In 2013 he traveled to Norway to do a mural project in Trondheim. The Mural Project, inspired by artists Dolores Capdevila and Ralph D'Oliveira, with help from James Hamilton were gifted through a grant from Trondheim Kommune. The large mural depicts the early navigation of three world seafaring people: the Chumash, the Vikings and the Polynesians. “The idea was to depict how we are all tied together.”

Ralph is part Chumash himself. The Chumash are a Native Americanpeople who historically inhabited the central and southern coastal regions of California and also occupied three of the Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel.

Check out the photos of the 1982 Beach Flats mural in the gallery below.

You can visit the Trodheim Mural Project Facebook page at :