Santa Fe Park Mural complete with ribbon cutting ceremony

Mural complete after vandalism of Santa Fe Park building in June 2020.
Mural complete after vandalism of Santa Fe Park building in June 2020.(WIBW)
Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 12:57 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The artists who worked to cover vandalism with a community mural were recognized with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Santa Fe Park.

After someone painted graffiti on a restroom building in Santa Fe Park, the Oakland community responded by having three artists, Jamie Colon, Andy Valdivia and Robert Bustamante, create murals on all sides of the building to cover it up.

In June of 2020 -- the police department and parks police started an investigation after seeing hate speech against the black lives matter movement graffiti around the park and bathroom building.

The building is now covered with bright colors, a Santa Fe Railroad mural, a peace symbol and a grassy area-like mural. They hope to show positive images that could be correlated with the neighborhood and anti-vandalism-like images.

“You have the peace sign, that image popped in my head as a direct result of what I saw on the wall. So it would be the opposite of what happened,” said Colon.

Colon, who lives in the neighborhood, said he is hearing positive things from people seeing his work alongside the other artists’ work.

“I’ll go walking through the neighborhood, you know, and go for a walk, and you look up and you can see them off in the distance, walking around the building and checking it out. Lots of them are kids which is fun to see but you do see the parents coming through.”

He said mural design ideas and planning meetings can take time to come up but he wanted to paint fast. Colon was originally tasked with painting the whole building but reached out to members of the community he trusted to help.

“I wanted to avoid that because the longer that process had taken, the more opportunity there is for that vandalism to occur again and that’s what I wanted to try and avoid.”

In total, it took about 10 days of work throughout the month of October to finish the piece.

“We had to insert ourselves whenever the weather allowed us to insert ourselves. We’d come out one day, the next day it’d be 32-degrees outside so we’d skip a day.”

Colon wanted to use bright colors so anyone can see their work in any season throughout the year. “When it’s gray in the wintertime or when you have fall or all this green in the spring and summer, you have all these bright colors that are popping out and just catching your eye constantly.”

Parks and Rec used the building and community members as a beta project. They hope they can paint buildings in other neighborhoods.

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