Javier Gomez, founder and owner of the Inlakech Cultural Arts Center, was recently honored with a mural on South Oxnard Blvd. The mural is a portrait of the well-respected educator and was painted on an outside wall of Lavandería Bubblez.
Gomez says that the painting is a reflection of the students over at Inlakech and the work they have accomplished. “It’s what [the students] have done to highlight the value of the work that culturally has to be done in the city and in the county, and even in the nation, to promote respect and harmony in our communities,” Gomez said to VIDA Newspaper.
Gomez was not aware that a mural of him was going to be put up and was surprised to hear about it when an acquaintance of his gave him a call about it.
“He drove by and saw the mural and took a picture of it, and I thought it was him who did it because he is an artist, his name is Art Rivas,” Gomez said. “He just happened to have seen it and he quickly shared it.”
Other friends of Gomez also called him about the mural after passing by it. Gomez and his wife went to go see the mural as soon as they got a chance, and it was an emotional experience for the couple.
“[My wife] was besides herself as far as how it made her feel, she started crying when she saw the mural. It really it took a life of its own,” Gomez said. “I took a picture of it with my wife and I in it, it was very humbling to see it.”
The decision to put together the mural of Gomez came from the organization Fork Space, a collaborative group whose goal is to produce engaging events for the community at a low to no cost.
The organization received help from the Ventura County Arts Council to make the artwork possible.
“[Fork Space] said that they needed to do something for me, they said ‘why should we do something about somebody that is dead? Why don’t we celebrate someone when they’re alive?’” Gomez said to VIDA Newspaper.
The two artists who painted the mural are Maribel Hernandez Palomera and Sergio Martinez who goes by the nickname “Checko.” Gomez thanks them for the work that they did.
The owner of Lavandería Bubblez, Enrique Garcia, also helped with the mural project.
“When he found out that they were doing the mural to honor me he said, ‘how much do you all need for paint?’” Gomez said to VIDA Newspaper. “I’m blessed that the landlord came in support and offered monetary support to the artists. That to me is really exciting.”
Gomez is happy with the location that was chosen for the mural and says that it is close to where Clinicas del Camino Real is going to be built.
“It’s about what Clinicas is going to have on the foreground of their building,” Gomez said. “It’s going to be the monument that honors Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the farmworkers of our county. I’m honored by the fact that I’m not going to be too far away from them.”
The word “Inlakech” is also included on the mural of Gomez, a word of huge significance for him. Inlakech originates from Mayan culture.
“Inlakech is about love and respect, and I’m honored that they put the word Inlakech. That’s been my push in my lifetime to teach people who are of Latino descent how to speak the forgotten language of the indigenous people of the Americas,” Gomez said.
Many people have already gone to visit the mural and it has been shared by numerous people online.