Societies Light: Acknowledging and Empowering Womyn

Community Bridges is proud to showcase a restored mural at its headquarters at 519 Main St. in Watsonville. Muralist Guillermo “Yermo” Aranda, Santa Cruz County 2020 Artist of the Year, created the “Societies Light: Acknowledging and Empowering Women” mural to honor the history of forceful womyn, of indigenous cultures and in our Central Coast history. The mural acknowledges the local people and the lands we occupy in a powerful way.

We invite you to stop by and view this celebratory mural. But until then, please click on each of the five panels below to learn more about the stories depicted in the mural.

Guillermo Aranda

Guillermo “Yermo” Aranda

Multi-Media Artist

Studio: 18 West Lake Av., Suite “B”, Watsonville, CA 95076
Cell: 831-970-0141

Current Employment:
Independent Art Instructor and Muralist

Visual Media:
Murals, Fine Art Printmaking, Acrylics on Canvas, Pastels, Drawing, Pottery, Sculpture,

Silversmithing and Computer Graphics.


Murals: I apprenticed my first mural project in 1969, under Gilberto Ramirez, while a student at San Diego State College. Since then I have completed over 80 murals throughout the state of California. Working with acrylics, on occasion including sculptural relief and tiles. Murals have always been my favorite form of artistic expression, it includes community.

Fine Art Printmaking: I began my exploration of fine art printmaking in 1978, at the Native Images Studio in Santa Cruz, Ca., in apprenticeship to Daniel O. Stolpe. Later  studying under Howard Ikemoto (1987-89) at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Ca.

Acrylics: Since 1969 I have explored and experimented with a variety of techniques using acrylics. I enjoy the immediacy of color application, color upon color.

I use acrylics on canvas, masonite and concrete walls for mural painting.

Sculpture: I prefer earth clays, a mix of commercial clay with the natural clays found in its natural settings. Many of my sculptures took the form of ancient deities’, which I inlayed with cut tiles, jade, abalone, mother of pearl and turquoise. I have worked in two different foundry’s, where I learned to cast in bronze.

Silversmith: A very special media, I only work silver on special occasions. I enjoy overlays, inlays, and shadowbox. As well as working with stones of jade, and turquoise, or mother of pearl, abalone and coral.

Drawing: is my favorite media, I can work on a drawing for months, I enjoy the detail and control for realism the drawing media gives you. I have drawn with pencils, chalk, ink, pastels, washes, lithography crayons, and markers.

Artistic Accomplishments:

1986 – 2019, I have completed over seventy-five (75) murals in the Santa Cruz/Monterey County areas, over 95% of these murals were working with the youth of these communities.

1985 – 2019, Established the Aztec Dance Ceremony of “Xilonen” in Watsonville, Ca., it is the traditional rites of passage ceremony for young women. Young dancers come from throughout the Southwestern United States to participate.

1984 – White Hawk Indian Council for Children”, Co-founder and Director of White Hawk, a youth cultural arts organization incorporating the visual and performing arts.

1984 – White Hawk Dancers, a youth Aztec Dance Troupe.

1973 – Chicano Park Murals, initiator and coordinator of the Chicano Park Mural

Projects, designated as a historical site by the City of San Diego. And designated as a National Historical Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior (2017)

1970 – El Centro Cultural de La Raza, Co-founder of this cultural art center focusing on workshops of traditional art forms of the Indigenous Americas.

1968 – Toltecas en Aztlan, Co-founder of Toltecas en Aztlan, an art organization of Chicano Artists representing all medias in the visual and performing arts. Initiators of the Chicano Park Murals, San Diego, Ca.

1997 – The Gail Rich Awards, Santa Cruz County
1999 – Community Racial Justice Heroes, YWCA of Watsonville, Ca.
2000 – Community Heroes Recognition, Santa Cruz County/Santa Cruz Sentinel.
2000 – Jackie Kennedy Award, TV 8, Salinas, Ca.
2018 – Legacy Project, Museo Eduardo Carrillo, UCSC
2019 – San Diego History Museum/Biography
2020 – Santa Cruz County – Artist of the Year

The following people gave their time and talents to the creation of this mural.

Alexis Magdaleno, Bernie Gomez, Elias Gonzales, Jose Hernandez, Ivan Hernandez, Martha Vega Cendeja, Kurihani Carbajal Vega, Graciela Vega Cendeja, Nethaniel Madrigal, Stephanie Dieguez, Jaime Sanchez, Zyanya “Lola” Aranda, Ixchel “Ixchi” Aranda, Tlanextli “Yaya” Aranda, Yesenia Molina, Alicia Hernandez, Isabel Tzitziki Hernandez, Reyna Hernandez, Adriana Blanco, Denisse Ogata, Victor Cervantes, Irene Juarez O’Connell, Kailani Aguayo, Ricardo Garcia, Danny Morales, Tizoc Aranda, Mica Aranda, Marissa Bartell, Jaime Paz, Mya Aranda, Penelope Rain Paz, Joaquin Mariano Aranda, Valeria Melchor-Hernandez, Airam Coronado, Lorena Castillo, Denise Mendoza-Castillo, Mary Moss, Julia Estella Lara-Espitia, Chris ‘Spirit Hawk” Wimer, Juan Gomez, Kait Martone, Mireya Contreras-Gomez, Jack Bowers, Daniel Dodge Sr., Nahara Villalobos, Ome Garcia, Bryan Y Palma, Steve Nathan Dodge, Anai-i Zamora Dodge, Atziri Valdez-Alvarado, Ayari Alvarado, Beatriz Valdez-Alvarado, Yesenia “Yessi” Garcia, Jessica Evangelista, Genevi Rico, “Lizzy” Monroy-Rodriquez, Paul DeWorken, Jason Pineda, Jimmy Rodriquez, Karla Gutierrez, Veronika Gutierrez, Magali Gutierrez, Coral Gonzalez, Xipe Toltec Galindo, Rosie Aranda, Marcia Rincon-Gallardo, Tonantzin Reguerin, Neveah Reguerin.

Community Bridges Family of Programs


Panel 1: Mother and Child

Coatlicue, ancient Pre-Columbian Earth Goddess of Life and Death, goddess of Fertility and Rebirth. Imagery consists of “Mother and child,” acknowledging their sacredness as Givers of Life, including an image of an Ohlone mother and child. The candle symbolizing the light womyn shine on society like a candle flame on an altar, constant, consistent and soft.


Panel 2: Empowerment and Sacrifices

This panel encompasses all the sacrifices a mother makes for her children. It depicts the Watsonville Cannery Strike, led by Mexican womyn, mothers, and many single parents that went on strike. Over 1000 workers, mostly womyn went on strike for over 18 months. During that time not one worker broke the strike by going back to work for the Watsonville Cannery. They organized and manned picket lines, confronted the police, and reorganized their Union, Teamsters Local 912. Their maintained solidarity and self- organization is still unparalleled in contemporary labor disputes. They made history that is seldom acknowledged. After the chaos comes rebirth, represented as a newborn emerging from out of the corn.


Panel 3: Education and Resiliency

A college graduate receiving her diploma. A Traditional Ceremony that acknowledges young womyn receiving their rites of passage, “Xilonen”. The retainment of our cultural heritage through the active participation of traditional ceremonies. The Pre-Colombian symbol for the Moon. Maize, the scared grain, a portion of the Aztec calendar, a documentation of time, a face of jade, peering through foliage of the rain forest, a subliminal image of resistance.


Panel 4: Spirit and Celebration

The Spirit of the Eagle, the Quetzal, extending his wings across all panels. The Quetzal represents the sacredness of all that is precious and loved the most. The Sacred Moon Stone, Coyolxauhqui, daughter of Coatlique, who was sacrificed and thrown into the heavens to become the moon. The piñata, a time of celebration and ritual, symbolizing the release of the spirits of our relatives who have passed on. Children, because they were pure and innocent, would strike at the piñata. When it broke, all the spirits were released to continue their journey into the Spirit World.


Panel 5: Quetzalcoatl and Earth Abundance

Quetzalcoatl, Lord of Light, the positive creative aspect of life. Symbolized as a serpent, constantly caressing Mother Earth, it’s plumes symbolizing the Eagle, that which is the closest to the Creator. The balance between Earth and Universe. The abundance of the Earth represented by the Rainforest, rich and thick of life and foliage. An Ohlone Village in its natural landscape, abundant with life and natural resources until it was colonized and the settlers developed it.