New building owner wants to cover up beloved neighborhood mural in San Jose

New building owner wants to cover up beloved neighborhood mural in San Jose
Photo Credit: Guadalupe Washington Neighborhood Association
By Wesley Severson - Published on October 13, 2021.

It appears a beloved mural in the Washington-Guadalupe neighborhood in San Jose is going to be covered up at the behest of the property owner. The mural honoring San Jose’s Hispanic roots was painted in 2016 on the side of the building that houses War Fitness Bay Area at South First Street and Oak Street. The colorful work of art features images of Hispanic labor activist César Chavez, figures seen during Dia De Los Muertos, and many other elements. But according to San Jose Spotlight, the man who just bought the building, Jaeson Le, wants the mural painted over to make the location more appealing to tech workers. 

The mural is in the district of Councilmember Raul Peralez, who tried to persuade Le to let the mural stay. “It is extremely disheartening," Peralez said to San Jose Spotlight. "We even spoke with him about whether he could work with the same artist to produce a different mural if he was looking for something else, and he said no. As a private property owner, our understanding is that he has that right.” Le has not publicly commented on his decision. 

The mural’s designer tried to explain to Le that not only is the mural pleasing to the eyes, but it also deters taggers tied to gangs that still spray paint in the neighborhood. "He’s more concerned about making money and profiting than he is about the wellbeing and prosperity of this community," mural designer Thomas "Wisper" Talamantes told KTVU.

Some even claim that less graffiti has been a direct result of the mural. “Honestly, as soon as that mural went up, it was like all the problems went away,” Rosalinda Aguilar with the Guadalupe Washington Neighborhood Association told San José Spotlight.

Despite the expected loss of this mural, Aguilar says more and more of them are popping up in San Jose because people really love and enjoy them. “Three years ago there were a lot less murals than we have today. I think people take pride in them and want to protect them.”

“Zay,” the owner of War Fitness says he will be sad to see the mural go. “The community here is very much involved so I’m sure they’re not going to go down without a fight. It’s pretty meaningful, especially to the Hispanic community, we don’t have many landmarks,” they said to San Jose Spotlight.

According to KTVU, the community rally in support of the mural will take place on the evening of October 18th. The Guadalupe Washington Neighborhood Association says that the owner must wait until at least December to start covering it up.