The City of Coachella is a largely rural, agricultural, family oriented community that rests at the edge of the Coachella Valley. As hundreds of thousands of people gather in Indio every year for the Coachella Valley Music Festival, the place once known as “The City of Eternal Sunshine,” has remained largely forgotten, and poverty stricken.
And despite supplying the region with close to half a million dollars a year in vegetable crops, many of the farm workers in the Eastern Coachella Valley continue to live in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.
On April 2014, Coachella Walls, an arts driven community revitalization project, aimed to bring awareness to these issues by kicking off phase 1 of the project in honor of Cesar Chavez and the Anonymous Farm Worker.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival may have wrapped up last week, but still unfurling in Coachella's Pueblo Viejo District is an ambitious project that has brought together about a dozen muralists and international contemporary artists.
In addition to stimulating foot traffic to the area, Sobio says, “Coachella Walls” is meant to raise awareness for the larger Eastern Coachella Valley and is dedicated “to the anonymous farmworker.”
“There are a lot of farmers working in bad conditions in certain parts of the Eastern valley,“ he says. “It's a poor city, a forgotten city. We want to shed some light on that. We want to recognize the farmers and the city of Coachella and the Eastern Valley, because they have something to say — that they exist.”
”I grew up in this town,“ Lerma says. ”I've been wanting to do this for a long time, and to time it with Coachella so people at the festival have a reason to come here. Carlos and I were part of 'Wynwood Walls' in 2011, and we met Med [Sobio] there — and it all came together now, the timing was right."
Deborah Vankin / April 2014
The Date Farmers kicked off the project on Cesar Chavez Day, with a mural alongside “El Centro del Trabajador” or the “Center for the Worker” on Vine Street, where Cesar Chavez spent some of his time organizing farmworkers.
“We decided to do something related to the farmworkers' history,” Lerma said.
-The Desert Sun
Tatiana Sanchez / April 2014
Inviting solidly remarkable street art and mural-painting talents to show some camaraderie with the working men and women in this community, the first annual Coachella Walls has now made its mark in the Historic Pueblo Viejo District of downtown.
-Huffington Post / Brooklyn Street Art
Jaime Rojo & Steven Harrington / May 2014
The project has allowed the artists to reach out to the community, Lerma says.
“Young kids stop by and talk about art, some people are reminded of family members when looking at the murals or they're amazed at the technical skill,” he says. “It sparks a lot of conversations.”
“The idea was to show people, 'Hey, this city exists and there's a lot of culture and history here,” Sobio says. “When people hear about the Coachella Valley, they only think about Palm Springs or the festival in Indio. Hopefully, that changes here.”
Deborah Vankin / April 2014
Coachella Walls Producer — Armando Lerma (Date Farmers Art Studios) & Medvin Sobio (LOS POBRES MEDIA)
Artists — Date Farmers, Albert Reyes, Andrew Hem, El Mac, Nunca, Sego.
Curator, Photography, & Welcome To Coachella Film — Medvin Sobio (Los Pobres)
Special Thanks — City Of Coachella, L.A. Times, Desert Sun, Arrested Motion, Brooklyn Street Art, Huffington Post, Complex.
Spray Paint Sponsor — 33third.Com