Along the Interstate 5 and beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, the home of the country's largest collection of outdoor murals also serves as a hub of community arts and culture for the Barrio Logan neighborhood. More than 90 murals adorn the Coronado Bridge support pillars that frame Chicano Park, a stunning reflection of the Barrio Logan Cultural District’s rich history of social activism and Mexican/Chicano heritage.
Josephine Talamantez was born and raised in the historic Logan Heights neighborhood now known as Barrio Logan. In 1970 while attending San Diego City College (SDCC), she became involved in the Chicano student movement and would soon join other community activists in establishing Chicano Park. The City of San Diego neglected to listen to the community’s request for a park after the destruction caused by the Interstate 5 and the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge, instead planning to build a highway patrol station in under the Bridge. After the community occupied the site for 12 days of protests and demonstrations to block bulldozers from beginning construction, the City backed down and Chicano Park was founded.
In 1980 the San Diego Historical Site Board designated Chicano Park as an official historic site, and the San Diego Public Advisory Board later recognized the many murals on the Coronado Bridge Pillars as public art. Maintaining her dedication to her community in Barrio Logan, in 1997 Josephine began the process to place Chicano Park on the National Register of Historic Places to protect the park and its murals. In 2013 she submit the proposal that would successfully secure Chicano Park as a National Historic Landmark.
Josephine has also devoted her talents to advancing arts and culture at the state level for nearly 30 years as Chief of Programs and Special Initiatives for the California Arts Council. She also held the roles as Legislative Liaison, Manager of California's State/Local Partnership Program and Statewide Networks, and Manager of Artists' Residencies/Fellowships, Multicultural Arts Development and Traditional Folk Arts Programs.
Josephine continues to devote her time to preserving the history behind Barrio Logan today. In 2015 she founded the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center which will reside in a nearby city-owned building that once housed the Cesar Chavez Continuing Education Center. She is one of the founding members of the Chicano Park Steering Committee, and a current member of the Barrio Logan Planning Group and the Barrio Logan Association, the organization that organized and applied for the Cultural District designation.
The California Cultural District designation shines a light on an already vibrant arts and culture scene in Barrio Logan. Josephine hopes to see more support from the State to encourage collaboration among the California Cultural Districts, and fund opportunities for community development within them. The grassroots efforts of the local artists, community leaders, residents, and business owners that have preserved Barrio Logan since the 1970’s are a testament to the possibilities that exist when residents are empowered and involved in decision making, and this community’s dedication to heritage and history.
“This community has been a cultural district for many years, even before the Interstate 5 or the Coronado Bay Bridge. Logan Avenue was the cultural district, we had our own theatres, creative businesses, the Neighborhood House. It has always been my goal to preserve our past, and support our new leaders as they maintain and advance this community as a resource of culture and history.”