A few sections down, Gina Ortega of Indio made gentle strokes with a hefty pencil, shading in a thin mustache above the lip of a ‘pachuco’ – a member of a subculture of Latino youth during the zoot suit era.
Illuminated by floodlights, residents are lining up nightly with paintbrushes in hand to tell the stories of Latinos as part of the largest public art project in city history – and one of the largest in the state.
Depictions of the well-known, including artist Frida Kahlo and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, are just part of this 1,000-foot mural between Avenue 52 and Bagdad Avenue along Shady Lane.
The theme changes every 50 feet, tracing the culture from Aztec rule and the Spanish Conquest; El Grito to Cinco de Mayo; the world wars to Vietnam; the labor movement to history now in the making.
“Coachella is 99 percent Latino, and Latinos have a story,” said Mayor pro tem Steve Hernandez.
The project is spearheaded by Culturas, a local organization that promotes the arts. It started in April and is expected to wrap by May.
Ruben Gonzalez of Culturas unofficially calls the project the “heart and soul” mural because it’s all being done by volunteers on their own time.