Something Wonderful is Happening in Watsonville

Come to the Muzzio Mosaic Arts Center Soft Opening!
Tuesday, August 6th 6:00-8:00 p.m. in conjunction with National Night Out. Come place some tiles, eat some food, and meet the Board of Community Arts & Empowerment. 26 W. Front Street, Watsonville

A mosaic, by its nature, is a thing made up of many smaller things, lots of unique pieces combining to make one grand piece of art. And it’s a perfect metaphor for what’s happening behind the scenes in Watsonville to make a big, bold public mural project a reality.

Watsonville Brillante, a massive public art project as envisioned by artist Kathleen Crocetti, will transform the city’s Civic Center parking garage into a public art statement that celebrates cultural heritage — and the connections — between local families.

Mosaic tile installed on 185 panels, each eight feet wide by three-and-a-half feet tall, will eventually cover more than 12,000 square feet of the garage, and three large walls will each feature a single mosaic image. It will be a gigantic, colorful and meaningful work of art that will attract visitors, entrepreneurs, businesses and investors to Watsonville. This energy will complement the City of Watsonville’s plan to up-zone and redevelop the historic Downtown area. The plan is to refurbish many of the outdated, low-rise old buildings with 5- to 7-story residential and office buildings. The mural project is looked at as an important early spark to the rebuilding of Watsonville. 

Crocetti has a long record of successful public art projects, completing 20 public art projects of beautiful murals in Santa Cruz in the past decade, where she also teaches art and serves on the board of Arts Council Santa Cruz County. However, a mosaic project she created two years ago in Watsonville, “Celebrating the Dignity of Labor,” launched her in new directions. Composed of 16 tiled mosaic medallions set into the Main Street sidewalks of downtown, it tells the story of 14 major waves of immigration through 1942 and the work of each of those immigrant groups. The project earned her a Rydell Fellowship from the Santa Cruz Community Foundation, and Crocetti used the opportunity to travel to Spain, where she was inspired by the works of Antoni Gaudí.

A very public art project in every sense of the word, Watsonville Brillante will bring together residents and community members in the creation of a collaborative display of heritage and connection. Many hundreds, if not thousands of students, will participate in the making of the mosaics.  Crocetti’s experience has shown that students do better in school and have a lot of pride in creating a beautiful public mural that will last for decades. Her students who have worked on other mosaic works have proudly shown their parents and grandparents their work and have remarked that they want to show their children and grandchildren too.  This pride in themselves will expand to a better family life and pride in the community. Kathleen envisions an incubator program through which teen coordinators could gain valuable leadership and organizational skills as well as the opportunity to learn how to work with tile, preparing them for skilled, well-paying jobs in the future.

Bringing the community together

Crocetti’s project has the support of Watsonville city officials and a range of community partners, from local businesses and volunteers to angel investors willing to put up cash to make it happen. The $1.5 million project has already won over plenty of other supporters, including local businesses, volunteers and angel investors — $1.1 million in in-kind and cash donations have already been secured. Fireclay Tile of Aromas and Rinaldi Tile and Marble of Watsonville are donating tile and installation services, respectively, worth close to $500,000. The Watsonville City Council unanimously approved the concept and agreed to cover site preparation costs, waive building permit fees and lease the Muzzio Park Community Center to Kathleen for just $1 a year as a space to train, educate and make the mosaic. Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker and MBEP board member calls Watsonville Brillante an exciting project. “We really believe it will serve as a catalyst in downtown Watsonville.”

George Ow, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Ow Family Properties and MBEP board member, is among the project’s most enthusiastic supporters. He’s agreed to chair its nonprofit board and he and MBEP board member Bud Colligan have each pledged $20,000 annually for the next five years. The artist’s family is also donating $100,000, leaving just three more angel donors needed to pledge $20,000 annually for a five-year commitment to fully fund the project.

Ow is confident that will happen. “I can’t think of anything like this in the region and maybe in the state, at least of this magnitude,” he says. “Kathleen’s vision is an amazing world-class project that will last for centuries, and it’s doable.”

Even before the first tiles have been set, this six-story project is already bringing the transformational power of art to Watsonville, catalyzing change. “What it reminds me of is MBEP. It’s putting people together of different connections, different abilities, different skills, and we all come together to make something happen,” says Ow. “Whether it’s housing or economic development, we all do parts of it, but when we really work together, we can really make something happen. And that’s what’s going to happen here.”

An enduring work of art that could last for hundreds of years will be a beacon of art and beauty on the largest structure in the city, showing the diverse history of families in the area and attracting visitors from throughout the region and beyond. It’s an audacious idea, says Ow, which could be the very thing that transforms Watsonville into “the Barcelona of America.”

“It will transform Watsonville from a place that I see as filled with hope and possibility to a place where the hope and possibility manifest.”

Want to get involved? To learn more about becoming an Angel Donor, contact George Ow at georgeowjr@aol.com.

Learn more about Watsonville Brilliante here: https://communityartsempowerment.org/

Muzzio Mosaic Arts Center Soft Opening
Tuesday, August 6th 6:00-8:00 p.m. in conjunction with National Night Out
26 W. Front Street, Watsonville

Come place some tiles, eat some food, and meet the Board of Community Arts & Empowerment.

Muzzio Mosaic Arts Center August Hours
Family & Community: Sundays in August 11, 18, & 25th from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

TEENS! Mondays and Tuesdays
4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

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They REALLY want to be open MORE hours…and are looking for volunteers or part time paid staff 3:00-4:30 Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays! (These are the minimum hours needed, there is room for more.) PLEASE call Kathleen Crocetti if this is something you’d like to do! (831) 724-5981

Call for Artists!
 

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