Imperial Valley Press
Mural aimed at breathing new life into downtown Brawley
BRAWLEY — An empty wall bordering a vacant lot in this city’s downtown has become the canvas for a message that its creators hope will help breathe new life into the community.
Jesus Lopez’s “Greetings from Brawley” mural, at 623 Main St., was officially revealed on Saturday.
The work was commissioned through the efforts of Araceli Mangione, a Brawley native and founder of Imperial Valley Murals.
Mangione, who studied and worked in the arts in Germany for 10 years before returning to the California, said she was inspired to help reverse some of the decay she observed in the downtown area.
“We have these empty buildings, and what a better thing to do than bring color and liveliness to the city?” Mangione said.
“Artwork can inspire the mentality of a community,” she said. “Having worked with artists, I had seen how art could change an atmosphere.”
Besides having three jobs, Mangione worked on making this mural possible since the summer of 2021. She received support from the North County Coalition for the Arts, Brawley merchants, the city of Brawley, and Los Amigos de la Comunidad. This is Imperial Valley Murals’ first project.
“It’s an opportunity for people to look at our walls. It is also a reminder that there is a lot of talent in the Valley,” Mangione said.
She organized a contest to select the design.
Mangione received many entries, and at the last minute, she got the award- winning design by artist Jesus Lopez. It is a love letter to Brawley, capturing many of the city’s points of interest and activities.
“I came up with images I grew up, driving by as a kid with my parents, things we always see in Brawley and know exactly what it is,” said Lopez, who painted the mural over the course of about five days.
“This is a reflection of our community, achievements and histories,” Mangione said. “People will look at this and see a story.”
Locals reacted with pride and joy seeing Brawley portrayed as a piece of art that will be in place indefinitely along the city’s primary thoroughfare.
“I felt immense pride, I was looking into these images, and people next to me were pointing to recognize these places and Brawley and how that got a meaning,” Mangione said.
For local small business owners, such as Andrya Juarez, co- owner of Brawley Creamery, this mural is also an opportunity for visitors to explore the city.
“Hopefully that inspires others to get their businesses downtown,” Juarez said.