Coachella Mural Colorfully Illustrates Artist's Roots

Chris Sanchez's paint brush helps to bring scenes from Chicano history to life



Coachella artist Chris Sanchez looks upon a portion of the 1,400-foot mural in his hometown.

Sarah Scheideman

Not all of Chris Sanchez is standing before you.

Part of the Coachella resident is ingrained in 60 feet of a 1,400-foot mural located on Shady Lane in Coachella, adjacent to Dateland Park.

“A part of me is solidified into the wall forever,” said Sanchez looking at the piece. “Nothing can compare to that feeling of accomplishment.

Sanchez, of Coachella, is one of 20-plus artists that contributed to the Shady Lane Mural including many who were born and raised in the Coachella Valley. Together, they brought their unique styles, levels of professionalism, backgrounds and experience to the collaborative space to complete the masterpiece.

The mural was organized by Cultras Music and Arts, a grass roots organization out of Coachella whose mission is to bring art and music to the youth of the Eastern end of the Valley. The finished project, which took two years to complete, was recently unveiled at a community festival on Nov. 17.  The organization chose the mural theme depicting Chicano history through a timeline series of historically significant events starting in Mexico. Artists like Sanchez were either recruited to contribute their talents, while others contacted Cultras Music and Arts to be part of it.

The entire wall is divided into segments varying in length from 50 to 100 feet, each one featuring a different artist and their visual interpretation of the historically significant event.

Sanchez was assigned to depict the Spanish Conquest, choosing to break the story down into three sections: the arrival of the Spanish in the Mayans, when they discovered the gold, and the war.

He used not one, but three completely different painting techniques for each section.

“I really challenged myself,” said Sanchez, 22. “For instance, I used only a sponge brush on the entire first section, just so I could get the exact effects that I wanted. I also mixed hundreds of custom paint colors to get the exact shades and tones I wanted.

Standing in front of his piece on the day of the unveiling, Sanchez said the project took him almost a year to complete

“Painting in the summer was really rough, but I knew my work could potentially be up for decades to come so I pushed through and made it happen,” he said

Where once a white barren wall stood alone stands a powerful piece of art that celebrates community and its roots

“All within this one block is the Dateland Park, the skate park, the field and now the mural....it’s really brought this community to life,” Sanchez said.

A second phase of the mural project that would require outside financing includes a landscaped walkway, with a cement trail and LED lights along its side. Information plaques will also be installed to provide artist information and historical relevance.

“It was such an honor to be chosen,” Sanchez said. “Knowing my art could impact the youth in a positive way and help educate the community on their culture is very meaningful to me.”

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