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DISPATCHES: Hometown Pride, Positively

Three sons of Watsonville are using art to elevate the city's reputation.

Jaime Sanchez, Paul De Worken and Danny Pineda are plotting to rebrand Watsonville.

In a city often in the news for gang violence, unemployment, political in-fighting and other negatives, three young men have found a way to share their hometown pride: a T-shirt.

The "The Ville" T-shirt with a line drawing of the  inside a circle debuted earlier this year. A similar shirt with a strawberry inside the circle was released this month.

The shirts—and hoodies, and tank tops—are basic, clean images inked in black or white on white, gray and black fabric. "The Ville," short for Watsonville, is scrawled around the top edge of the circle in italics and all caps.

“It’s reclaiming it in a positive way," De Worken said. "Anybody can wear it and feel proud.”

"And we want it to be known for art as well," Sanchez said of Watsonville. "That’s a main objective, to put art on apparel.”

The guys, who operate as , sold the first batch of gazebo shirts at last month's  and the . City Manager Carlos Palacios was one of their first customers, De Worken said.

People appreciate having something positive that represents Watsonville.

"It's been extremely positive. Everyone’s been really excited to see them," De Worken said. "The reaction has been, 'Oh, it's about time.'"

Inspiration

The men admit they're mimicking someone else's design: they saw the crew setting up for  wearing Oakland hoodies that said "The Town" with images of the port and cranes. Those shirts, of course, are a play on the old Warriors' jerseys from when they were in San Francisco in the 1970s.

“We’re always looking for ideas for apparel," De Worken said "We thought we should really do something like that for Watsonville and call it 'The Ville.'"

Pineda, a security guard, operates Legacy Studio and Screenprinting on the side and produces his own line of streetwear, Royal High Class. He already had been printing shirts with Monterey Bay Murals designs, so it didn't take much to get him on board with the new line of Ts.

"I’m just trying to help them promote and get their art out," said Pineda, 20, who started his first clothing label with three friends when he was a sophomore at Pajaro Valley High School. “He’s giving me work and I’m giving him what I like to do.”

The guys hope they can create iconic images of Watsonville.

“Part of the motivation is noticing the success of Santa Cruz Skate apparel," De Worken said, speaking about the "red dot" T-shirts and stickers seen all over the county. "We think that’s very good and we think, in addition to that there should be something that represents the locals here in Watsonville."

The guys already have drawn a line in the sand about their intentions. On Facebook, someone suggested the guys use red and blue to appeal to the gangsta crowd.

De Worken shot down the idea immediately. He deleted the comment and answered with this post:

"Im not going to add any gang affilation to this. Watsonville is a family town not gangster paradise. The W design is in the works already but im keeping the colors and the designs neutral. My art and designs are for everyone to enjoy, and I dont promote gangs or anything deconstructive."

The colors on the shirts will always remain neutral, the guys said. They plan more Watsonville designs, such as apples, and to expand to other communities—they'll print up an artichoke shirt for Castroville.

"We’re just trying to keep it all positive," said De Worken, a special education teacher at Rolling Hills and father.

Monterey Bay Murals

Sanchez and De Worken attended Watsonville High at the same time, but didn't become friends until 2006 when they landed in the same class at CSU-Monterey Bay's Visual and Public Art program.

The two found they shared more than just a hometown. They both wanted to use art as a medium for education and community participation.

“Eduction is the key," said Sanchez, who is a substitute teacher. "For me personally, I wanted to try to find a way where we can teach people to support artists and purchase art."

Monterey Bay Murals tries to make art accessible to the masses. The men have painted more than 20 murals, most at Watsonville schools.

The murals adorn the quads at  and , the front of  and at Rolling Hills Middle School. Some of the paintings accurately depict Mayan and Aztec symbols. Those cultures, native to Central American countries such as Guatemala and Mexico, where many Watsonville families have immigrated from. (De Worken's mother is Guatemalan.)

They have six more in the works, including murals at Radcliff and Rolling Hills schools and one on City Council Member Daniel Dodge's garage.

"Basically promoting murals, that’s a main goal," Sanchez said. "Really, no matter how much community awareness there is about visiting galleries, it’s gong to be more direct to put the art right in the neighborhoods .... We think that’s going to have a direct return on us because we live here, so that’s going to improve the quality of life. It’s going to stimulate the young minds so they can get inspired by it."

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Shirts are available by ordering through the Monterey Bay Murals Facebook page.

  • T-shirts and tanks $20
  • Sweatshirts $40
  • Zipped hoodies $45

Shirts larger than XL are $5 more.

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Contact Danny Pineda at Legacy Studio and Screenprinting for advertisement, graphic designs, corporate logos, custom apparel, employee uniforms and team jerseys at (831) 750-2222 or LegacyStudioPrints@gmail.com.

Cathy P. March 12, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Have these guys considered selling at the Friday Farmer's Market, the SC County Fair & the Strawberry Festival? That's some pretty OK exposure...
Liseth Guízar March 12, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Love it! In getting my hoodie ASAP!
Jennifer Squires March 13, 2012 at 07:30 PM
I think they're looking at the Farmers Market and maybe also the Flea Market at PV High on Sundays. It'd be a great T-shirt for the Strawberry Festival so hopefully the city gets behind it too.
jessica hernandez June 14, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Can't wait to get one!
Jaime Sanchez June 20, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Thank you for the article, Jennifer! "The Ville" has a booth at this years Watsonville Strawberry Festival in August. Hope to see everyone there for a fun day.

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