New Bernal Heights mural using elements from old one 

Mediation appears to have settled the fight over the fate of the decades-old Bernal Heights Library mural.

The library had undergone a major renovation and reopened in January, but the exterior was left as is as the debate about the mural’s future remained unresolved.

The positions over the mural couldn’t have been more opposite, with some community members wanting no murals on the exteriors and others wanting the existing mural fully restored.

The work was commissioned by The City in 1980 and was painted by late muralist Arch Williams, with help from children and volunteers from the community. The mural depicts Hispanic and black children and figures from history. For those wishing to retain it, the mural was a symbol of a more diverse community. Others saw it as fading artwork that should be wiped away.

With seemingly no resolution in sight, Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes the library, sponsored a mediation process that included key players in the debate.

The mediation concluded Sunday after a nearly four-hour meeting that resulted in the signing of a consensus agreement.

Mauricio Vela, who has spent years fighting to preserve the mural and was part of mediation talks, summarized the agreement: “The current mural will not be restored as is. A new mural/artwork will be created with our participation in the artist-selection process and community-design process. The vital images of our current mural will be represented in the new mural/artwork, as well as Bernal between 1983 and 2009. Depending on funding, additional artwork could be produced within the library’s property lines.”


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