A mural titled Cosmic Flight decorates the east side of Golden Hill Liquor at the corner of 28th Street and B Street. The mural was painted in 1978 by Mario “Torero” Acevedo, whose work can be seen all around San Diego. Over the decades Cosmic Flight has been touched up, altered due to graffiti, then restored. As you can see in the above photo, it has been vandalized again.
Mario Torero is the son of renowned Peruvian artist Guillermo Acevedo who immigrated to San Diego in 1960. The life of a Bohemian was already in Mario’s blood as he and a few others local artists strove to develop a creative community in San Diego decades ago. In 1980 he opened the Sol Arts Gallery in Golden Hill across the street from the Cosmic Flight mural, the corner where Starbucks is today.
Mario Torero frequently uses cosmic imagery and expressive faces in his colorful compositions. His themes typically revolve around the civil rights movement and Chicano activism. He has been instrumental in the founding of important cultural centers in San Diego, including Chicano Park and the Centro Cultural de la Raza. A prolific and important creator of activist art, he has achieved international fame.
I walked past Cosmic Flight yesterday and was struck by the mural’s grouping of faces, which are filled with subtle emotion, including quiet pride and confidence. That’s the powerful element I like most in Mario Torero’s artwork. The humanity.
Over the years I’ve photographed a variety of other murals by Mario Torero around town.
Good examples include Cosmic Train of Wisdom in University Heights, a mural depicting civil rights leaders on Imperial Avenue, the Que Viva Barrio Logan mural, and a couple of murals I spotted during a long walk through Sherman Heights.
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