Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Righteous Action

"While selling tacos might not seem an obvious choice for someone who wanted to change people's lives, he realized that providing jobs and health care for his employees, as well as giving back to his community, would make a difference on a local level."

I wrote an article about Bryan Steelman last February after he'd opened his second Por Que No restaurant on SE Hawthorne. Because he bought the building, he was able to redevelop it as a sustainable "green" project, building tables from salvaged wood, reusing rebar for bar stools and putting in energy-efficient equipment and solar hot water heaters.

Now comes word that he's unveiling his latest addition to the site, a mural on the side of the building (above) painted by a group of young people under the mentorship of artist Rodolfo Serna, who was recently awarded the Skidmore Prize for his work with young people. Sponsored by the Regional Arts and Culture Council and p:ear, Serna and this team of homeless and parent-less kids are painting murals all over the city.

Of Serna himself, Steelman writes, "Rodolfo is the type of person that you hear about on one of those NPR stories while you're driving to some mundane place and next thing you know you're welled up with tears and feeling that intense ache of being inspired to be a better person. He is living a life that impacts youth and adults alike on a daily basis. He is an artist. He is a mentor. He has a spirit that is calming. He speaks softly, but with incredible strength. He is single-handedly making our city a better place."

You can attend the unveiling of the mural on Friday, Sept. 18, from 6 to 7 pm, and meet Serna and some of the young people who made it happen. The party will also feature Aztec dances by Mexica Tiahui and the AIM PowWow Singers. Stop by if you can, or just take a look the next time you're in the neighborhood. I guarantee you'll feel better about the city and the people who make it such a great place to live.

The Skidmore Prize is dedicated to recognizing individuals committed to the non-profit sector and who inspire others to get involved. Read Serna's moving essay from his application for the prize here.

Details: P:ear Mural Project Unveiling at Por Que No on Hawthorne. Fri., Sept. 18, 6-7 pm. Por Que No Taqueria, 4635 SE Hawthorne. 503-954-3138.

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