FULLERTON : Park Graffiti Gives Way to Muralists


A group of teen-agers and a well-known local artist are using a Lemon Park block wall as the canvas for a mural to deter graffiti vandals.

The wall had long been a popular “tagging” spot in Fullerton until last month, when the group began converting it into a mural titled “Children of the World,” city officials said.

“This painting is the heart of Fullerton and people will respect it,” 16-year-old Daniel Rodriguez said as he painted an ocean on the wall Wednesday afternoon. “This picture is of kids from around the world together. When you pass by it, you think, ‘Wow, what a beautiful city.’ ”


Rodriguez, who is a Fullerton High School student, and 12 other students from Fullerton High, La Vista Continuation School and Nicolas Junior High School teamed up with artist and muralist Emigdio Vasquez and Project CUFFS to paint the mural. CUFFS, or Community United for Fullerton Safety, is the city’s gang- and graffiti-prevention program.

The mural’s $5,400 cost is being paid by Project CUFFS.

“Before they started painting, this wall had new graffiti on it almost every other day,” said Candi Diedrich, Project CUFFS’ graffiti volunteer coordinator. “Now it’s gone and I just can’t even believe it.”

Vasquez, 54, an Orange resident, said murals are respected and often left untouched by graffiti vandals. His mural depicts 13 children from around the world, each in native dress, standing together with a map of the world in the middle.

The work represents “hope in today’s youths,” and provides an alternative to gangs and graffiti, said Vasquez, who has painted 20 other outdoor murals throughout Orange County in the last 16 years. “This is an idyllic vision of the world at peace.”

Added Rodriguez: “If people of different races can be together in a painting, they can be together in real life.”

He said the project has boosted his self-esteem.

“More kids should get involved in things like this instead of tagging,” said Elizabeth Garcia, 13, as she helped paint the clothes on a child on the mural. “It makes you feel good to know you’re doing something that is making Fullerton look cleaner and nice.”


Passersby stopped to watch the students and Vasquez paint as cars honked while driving by on Lemon Street.

Garcia, a Nicolas Junior High School student, said she learned a valuable lesson from volunteering for the project.

“People of any race can get along,” she said. “It’s stupid to be racist.”

Eloisa Espinoza, the city’s Community Service Center administrator, said the mural is beautifying the city and is “one of our ways to decrease graffiti here. It’s instilling pride in the community and shows that there are positive alternatives to graffiti.”

Vasquez said the project will be completed by the end of the month.