coachella walls

The Other Coachella

Near where Coachella and Stagecoach are staged is "Coachella Walls", a mural tribute to the people who forged the city's early identity.

Jessica Dickerson Arts & Entertainment, Attractions, Current Digital

coachella walls

Sembremos Sueños y Cosechemos Esperanza (Let's Sow Dreams and Harvest Hope) by Lapiztola. The mural was created for Coachella Walls in 2016. Dedicated to the Women of the Americas.

The next three weekends will make a clear connection between the city of Coachella and the home of the largest music festivals in the country.

Coachella and Stagecoach bring together artists, celebrities, locals and tourists from across the world to celebrate live entertainment in the desert. Coachella, particularly, highlights modern art and the inspiration drawn from the desert and mountains that surround the massive performance stages.

Before the music arrived, Coachella was home for years to agricultural farmworkers toiling in the fields. These workers, who continue to provide vital food sources to the desert communities and beyond, built a community that represented family and working-class people. From this community an idea was born: why not call this community together to create art, to represent what it stands for, to renew people’s opinions of this city, and provide perspective of other people’s experiences.

Lucha Sin Fin honors the Latina women farmworkers who over the years have endured innumerable struggles from sexual abuse to pesticides, racism to unfair compensation. Completed for Coachella Walls 2016.
This idea became “Coachella Walls,” an collection of murals placed alongside gas stations, coffee shops, and other abandoned buildings inside the city of Coachella. With each mural comes a statement; which varies from beautiful pictures of people dancing to the less discussed topics such as unfair compensation or sexual abuse awareness toward farm workers.

Each mural has its own style and message, helps the viewer travel back in time to see the gritty and sometimes ugly  work in the fields, while adding a unique flair to this historical city.

Meet Armando Lerma, a co-organizer of "Coachella Walls", and a well-known creator of one of the first murals himself (“Casa de Trabajador” by Lerma and Carlos Ramirez). Lerma grew up in Coachella, and speaks more with Palm Springs Life about “Coachella Walls.”

What is your piece in the Coachella Walls?

Carlos (the collaborating artist) and I worked for over 15 years together and we dedicated it to the farm workers. It’s in our style so it kind of looks like folk-art.

What age did you start creating art?

Ever since I was a little kid.

How long does it take you to finish a full mural? How do you plan on these murals lasting in the sunlight over the next few years?

A week or so but it depends on the wall. Normally just one artist creates. Some of these guys are professionals and that’s all they do and they can finish in a day or two. But honestly, they’re never gonna last… They fade from the sun but they could go. Just so they could be painted over. Just to show that they’re not meant to last forever.

VIDEO: Take a visual tour on the "Coachella Walls."

How did "Coachella Walls" start for you?

In 2010, Medvin Sobio invited me and some date farmers as artists to be part of this mural project. “Wynwood Walls” is the one that inspired all the other projects. It really started from “Wynwood Walls” and they had this billionaire who was investing- developing a district of Miami. They did this project with street artists who were kind of known at the time. Street art really had momentum. In 2009, a lot of artists were doing a lot of big things and it was exciting. It was international and had themes of graffiti, punk rock, and skateboarding and all these underground subcultures. We became friends (Sobio) and I invited him to come down here in 2012.

There were just crappy buildings. They have put a lot of new stuff in since and invested money, but before that it had been abandoned for over 30 years. No one cared here. I saw an opportunity and we were looking at it, with the mayor at the time, and we came up with a proposal to do something similar to "Wynwood Walls". The artists liked the idea that it was produced by another artist. It was like a grassroots project, and had name recognition because it’s literally Coachella.

People always think of Coachella with the festival. Coachella represents a working class community, and differentiates between what Coachella festival represents. That was what was going on, political art or to make a statement wasn’t even what it was but those political factors always play into things. I saw a way for art to revitalize the community. It was just a forgotten part and now we’re changing it.

To view a map that shows the location of each mural of  “Coachella Walls,” click HERE.

• READ NEXT: Where to View Public Art in Greater Palm Springs and High Desert.