The Latinx Arts Project/Carpinteria (Proyecto de Artes Latinx/Carpinteria), a grassroots group founded in 2022, will hold a public event honoring former students who attended the Aliso Elementary School before the end of school segregation in 1947. The event will take place at Aliso on June 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
During the event, the Latinx Arts Project/Carpinteria will share plans for its ambitious “Past, Present, Future” mural project, which celebrates the Latino culture and history of Carpinteria.
Former students ranging in age from 80 to 103, all born in California of Mexican heritage, will be in attendance and honored. They include: Tomas Castelo (80), Benito Villegas (80), Lorenzo Martinez (93), Salvador Campos (95) and Josephine Villegas (103). A short video by cinematographer Brent Winebrenner featuring interviews with these former students will be shown.
LAP/Carpinteria will unveil its new logo, art-directed by award-winning graphic designer and fine artist Larry Vigon and designed by Vigon with Cynthia Van Stein.
Guest speakers include Aliso Elementary School Principal Brett Weiberg, historian/former Carpinteria Main School Principal Dr. Jim Campos, Carpinteria City Council member Natalia Alarcon and Monica J. Solorzano, Co-president, Parents for Aliso.
Prior to 1947, Carpinteria’s Aliso Elementary School were designated for “Mexicans only.” Although Carpinteria High School was integrated, few Mexican Americans graduated.
Mexican Americans, who were born in the United States, were separated in a number of schools throughout California before a landmark case, Menendez vs. Westminster, called for the integration of schools and banned “Mexican only” schools in the Golden State.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the kindergarten-through-8th-grade Aliso schoolhouse provided showers to students from the “Old Town” and “Hollywood” sections of Carpinteria, many of whom lived in homes with no indoor plumbing. The school was meant to be a funnel for this population to Carpinteria’s lemon industry, according to the project: workers needed for picking, wrapping and shipping. Carpinteria had two packing houses in town. The Carpinteria Mutual Citrus Association was “whites only” inside.
Mutual Citrus integrated sometime during World War II. The labor shortage necessitated a change in their segregated policy inside the packinghouse during the war. Many women worked wrapping lemons individually and packing them for shipping.
The Latinx mural project, co-founded by Suzanne Requejo and Leslie Westbrook, wants to create Latinx themed murals in Carpinteria, California. The project is currently in the fundraising stage, according to Westbrook.
“Local artists will be invited to enter their design visions for consideration. The result is intended both as a vibrant visual testimony to Carpinteria’s Latinx history and a means of bridging all of our town’s cultures.”
Half of the small seaside town of Carpinteria’s population of 15,000 are currently Hispanic. As of the 2021-2022 school year, 74.9% of the students in the Carpinteria Unified public schools are Hispanic.
The Latinx Art Project will hold the event on June 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Aliso School Auditorium, 4545 Carpinteria Avenue. To learn more, donate or get involved, visit latinxartsproject.org. Follow along on Instagram and Facebook at Latinx Arts Project Carpinteria and on Go Fund Me at gofundme.com/f/Latinix-Mural-Project-Carpinteria.
For the record: In CVN Vol. 28, No. 37, “Latinx Arts Project to hold June 14 event at Aliso,” the percentage of Hispanic students in the Carpinteria Unified School District was incorrect. In the district, as of the 2021-2022 school year, 74.9% of students are Hispanic.