If you drive under La Cadena Drive in Colton these days, you’ll see colorful and vibrant murals that help provide some color to the concrete walls.
The artist of the murals, Eliseo Silva, admits he took some creative liberty in designing and painting the artwork. Although he invested ample time researching the city’s rich and cultural past, Silva altered some of the historic images and artifacts to reinvigorate the curiosity of residents and encourage social progress.
“I try to use local history and culture and use it as an incubator for new ideas,” Silva explained. “It provides residents a new perspective of the past to drive them towards the future.”
So far it’s attracted interest from several individuals who say they are related to a family depicted in one mural. The work, which shows a working class Mexican family together, are the ancestors of at least three residents.
The young man holding a small infant in the historic image is David Vasquez, the grandfather of Anthony Vasquez–a paint contractor who resides in Bloomington.
“When I saw the image, it blew my mind,” Vasquez said. “I said, ‘That’s my grandpa up there.’”
Vasquez, 56, said the family’s history was lost on him until he saw the mural. He said the family’s roots originate in Guanajuato, Mexico. Many migrated to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, he explained.
“Before I never really thought about it,” said Vasquez about his family’s origin. “Now that I’m older I’m more curious to learn about these things.”
In constructing the mural Silva hopes to provide a “demonstration of the mapping of a future city.” Many of the images on the mural are from Larry Sheffield’s book ‘Images of America: Colton’, which was published in 2004. Silva, a Riverside Community College alumnus, confirmed the mural will be completed by December 1.
“It provided me with a good overview,” said Silva. “I tried to absorb as much as possible from the book and other sources and families.”
Councilman Dr. Luis Gonzalez, who represents the area near the La Cadena Drive underpass, believes the murals will help spotlight the city’s cultural past.
“Besides providing a scenic route, the underpass will also remind residents that Colton has a nice, rich history,” Gonzalez said.
Silva also said the murals will help “humanize” the environment in Colton and encourage young people to appreciate history.
“People don’t want to feel disconnected,” Silva said. “This helps to invigorate the passion of residents that are looking to define themselves.”