Mural art is coming to the San Lorenzo River! CWC is excited to announce our new Artists-in-Residence partnership with The Jams, a muralist duo from Watsonville made up of Augie WK and Jessica Carmen. Through August of 2024, CWC will work with The Jams and community partners to develop public art projects about the San Lorenzo River. We can’t wait to see how this project creates new ways for people to relate to the river through art!
The project will focus on engaging communities living closest to the San Lorenzo River, including the Beach Flats and Lower Ocean neighborhoods, and will pay special attention to climate change. In past conversations with the Beach Flats community, residents identified murals as a preferred method for communicating about climate change and its impacts on the community, which include flooding. With this in mind, CWC sought to select an artist for the project with experience in murals as well as community engagement, and The Jams showed strengths in both areas. “This project is a great opportunity to show exactly how powerful and transformative the arts, and public art specifically, can be,” Jessica said.
The Jams believe deeply in making public art that is accessible to everyone. Their goal with murals is to leave behind interesting art that makes communities brighter and fosters pride of place. Their work in creating community events has focused on prioritizing culture, representation, and inclusivity for historically overlooked communities. Music, or “the jams,” that they would listen to growing up Chicano in California, often inspires their work, along with other parts of their Chicano culture and individual experiences.
Since they began painting together in 2018, The Jams have become fixtures of the mural arts scene, both locally and in the greater Bay Area. They are often recognized for some of their signature styles, including a stained-glass-inspired design that Augie often incorporates in his work. “Mural art is my passion,” Augie said. “I’m looking forward to using murals as a tool to engage and educate people, which honors the Mexican mural movement of the 1920s – think Diego Rivera.”
After joining the CWC team in September, the Jams have been getting to know the San Lorenzo River through walks, conversations, and learning, which Jessica says has helped her fall in love with the river a little more each time. “The river is a wonderful oasis in the center of a bustling city and I’m excited to share that love with others,” she said.
The Jams’ Artist Residency is made possible by a $140,000 grant from the Central Coast Creative Corps Program, a pilot program funded by the California Arts Council with the goal of uplifting the creative workforce while improving community health outcomes. The Coastal Watershed Council is one of 23 community partners that was selected to receive a grant from a pool of 150 applicants across Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. Our project will focus on climate mitigation and emergency preparedness, which was one of the four priority areas identified for the grants (others include public health awareness related to COVID-19; civic engagement regarding election participation; and social justice and community engagement).
This project builds on previous river-related public art projects CWC has helped facilitate, including storm drain murals in the Beach Flats neighborhood. The Jams have hit the ground running since becoming part of our team, and already have some new mural art on display in the Beach Flats. Stay tuned to learn more about their first project in a future post, and check out more work by The Jams at https://www.thejamsbrand.com/.