Local Artist Retouches Murals at Che Cafe

San Diego muralist Mario Torero returned to help touch up several of his previously painted murals at the Che Cafe facility on April 16. Students and local community members also joined the event and created their own artwork.

The painting began at 10 a.m. and ended around 4 p.m., with approximately 30 people total in attendance. Among them were alumni, students and members from the community, including several children. 

The purpose of the event, according to C.H.E. Collective member, event organizer and Muir College junior Fabiola Orozco, was to demonstrate what she believes to be the students’ continued desire to maintain the legacy of the Che Cafe. 

Orozco also said that she chose to ask Torero specifically to return because he was responsible for painting the murals of Cesar Chavez, Angela Davis, Che Guevara, Karl Marx and Malcolm X on the exterior of the building in 1993. 

Orozco, who became involved with the C.H.E. Collective earlier this year, hopes to show the administration through events such as Thursday’s mural painting that the Che Cafe is still significant on campus.

“The situation that the C.H.E. Collective is in now is that the administration argues that it is antiquated and nobody cares about this stuff anymore,” Orozco told the UCSD Guardian. “But it’s not. I thought it would be cool to have Mario come back and revitalize something important.”

Torero, who identifies himself as an “artivist,” contributes to the San Diego area Chicano/Chicana grassroots movement through his artwork. His pieces include the 40 Anos de Chicano Legacy mural located on the outside of Peterson Hall on UCSD’s campus and the numerous murals in the Chicano Park in Barrio Logan. 

In an interview with the Guardian, Torero said that he hopes to inspire action among younger generations through his teaching and activism.

“It brings me out when I see the energy of the youth standing up, taking action and being concerned about the world,” Torero said. “I have to support that like I did originally with this [facility].”

Torero also spoke of the retouched mural of Angela Davis, whose presence at the university and influence as an activist inspired him to become interested in creating murals at the Che Cafe facility.

“Loving her as a sister, one of our own, who paved the way for us,” Torero said. “Now that can continue.”

Students continue to occupy the Che Cafe facility 24 hours a day, despite Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez’s request for a voluntary evacuation by March 14. 

Orozco said it is unclear what will happen to the murals regardless of what will become of the space in the future. 

“I think in the future we could possibly talk about fixing up the rest of the murals,” Orozco said. “A lot of stuff is still being decided.”

More events will be held at the Che Cafe in April and May, including a creative dance on April 19, Stitch n’ Kvetch on April 23 and a dinner and movie night for the UC Liberation Front on April 24. Further information about upcoming events is featured on the Che Cafe Collective Facebook page.