In October 2020, dozens of locals gathered in the rain to see local artist Wesley Cabral hang his mural “Heroes,” celebrating the late Rep. John Lewis and actor Chadwick Boseman, on the wall on the wall of 34 Miller Avenue, across from Gravity Tavern and home to Urban Remedy and the commercial kitchen of Equator Coffee. He did so with an outpouring of support of the owners of each of the aforementioned businesses.
Now Cabral has returned to that wall, which also includes the historic, billboard-size Mt. Tamalpais Hikers Trail map, with a perfect bookend piece. His “Heroines” mural, featuring voting and women’s rights activist and civil rights movement leader Fannie Lou Hamer and Marsha P. Johnson, born and also known as Malcolm Michaels Jr., an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen who was an outspoken advocate for gay rights and one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. The mural also features the words of writer and civil rights activist Audrey Lorde.
“I created this work to honor the legacy of Black artists and freedom fighters,” Cabral says. “The conversation around diversity and specifically racial inequity has taken center stage over the past year in towns across America. This is a very good thing. For me inclusion begins by having a space and community that feels welcoming to those who are underrepresented. Art can play a critical role. When you witness art that represents people you identify with, there’s a stronger sense of belonging.”
“My hope is that other artists will step forward to create art in public spaces around Mill Valley, particularly artists of color,” he adds. “There is still a lot of room on the wall where these murals hang and plenty of places in Mill Valley alone. Other local businesses and building owners have offered additional spaces too. Mill Valley and Marin has a rich history of art. It’s time to rekindle that flame.”
The “Heroes” mural celebration came amidst an absolute surge of conscious activism and artistic energy in Mill Valley that has galvanized the community, from youth-fueled long overdue conversations on racial equity and policing in Mill Valley to a blossoming of inspired art. Zoe Fry was on hand for that event to expand on the group art project she led featuring a trio of free-standing doors in the Depot Plaza as a way to promote racial justice, with each door built around a timeline of racial inequity and systemic racism.
HERE’S A LOOK AT BOTH MURALS AND THE TRAIL MAP: