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New Murals for Granada, Nicaragua

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Murals at Santa Lucia and Calle Atravesada

by Elinor Maroney

Leslie Warren was in town for a month rushing from project to project. The most significant one being the mural painted by “my main man” Jairo Ivan Sandino Pastora. Jairo bicycled from Masaya everyday to paint the mural. Working from sketches, he paints “ad lib” with no actual drawing to go by. They talked about building community awareness, about saving the arroyos that feed Lake Cocibolca, and how toxics in the arroyos find their way to the lago. Jairo and Leslie worked closely on the design this time. The images and the messages were created with a specific focus. The wall location presented a unique opportunity to have impact. The murals occupy two walls facing east and west on Atravasada. One half of the side facing the vacant lot shows a burned and scorched dry landscape and the other half is green and fertile. Which world would you like to live in? Leslie says, “It is a ‘global’ perspective. The dry side facing Mombacho Volcano is a local perspective. The two sides together show that by acting locally we can have impact globally.”

The project began with cleaning the vacant lot and hauling away the garbage. Cleaning up the arroyo section by section is a goal of the mayor’s office. Hopefully this lot will be planted with native plants that will discourage dumping more trash there in the future. The wall was painted white as a base for the mural. The colors are vivid and the images really speak of the need for protecting the arroyos from litter.

Supplying the paint was a project in itself. Leslie contacted a paint company and they said they could donate paint in the future, but did not want to pay the tax that City Hall assesses for each time a business’s name is on display. It was off to the mayor’s office to get a letter stating that “donors to International Peace Projects clean water projects could be recognized on the murals (20X20cm) without taxation.”

In the 70’s when murals were painted around the country, paint was not so available. In his 1995 book The Murals of Revolutionary Nicaragua, David Kunzle states that the paint for murals painted in the 1970s and 1980s was mostly smuggled into the country in luggage brought from the United States, Canada and Europe. Now there are paint stores everywhere. Jairo used an oil-based enamel for his murals. He worked from a ladder as the vacant lot is well below the street level. The final coating is a varnish that will protect the mural and keep it from fading in the sun.

When it was decided they wanted to be able to identify the arroyos that feed into the lake, it meant running around town to get the names. The only identified arroyo is the major one that runs through the city. There is no map with names of the arroyos on it. The mural facing the street has a map of Granada and all the arroyos with telescoping images showing animal and plant life as well as charming houses and happy children playing along a clean arroyo.

Jairo also spent 4 days refreshing the bright mural at Carlos A. Bravo School on Calzada while Leslie was here and putting on a solar resistant varnish to protect it. It looks like it was just painted. It was actually painted over 3 years ago as a project of one of Leslie’s earlier visits to her house in Granada. She owns 2 houses – the second one she bought so she could have a patio with plants and trees in it – and a finca on the road to Nandaimo.

And that is another project. She met with a group from UCA (University of Central America) about using her finca as an experiment station where students might plant new and different crops to grow locally in view of the changing climate in the area. It looks like it might become a reality. She sold mangos and coconuts from her trees there – the first crops from her finca!

Leslie will be back in January with more projects – maybe even a few miracles!

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