HomeAsian AmericansSanta Barbara gets Year of the Dragon Mural

Santa Barbara gets Year of the Dragon Mural

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If you’re walking through El Presidio Park in Santa Barbara, you might get a glimpse of the city’s new dragon mural.

According to The Channels, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) commissioned a “Year of the Dragon” mural for the 2024 Lunar New Year festival on February 11.

The idea for the mural came from SBTHP board member Kai Tepper, Santa Barbara Independent reports. DJ Javier, a local artist from Santa Barbara, helped Tepper create the mural.

The mural was also part of a broader exhibit The Dragon, which showcased the works of local AAPI artists at the Presidio Chapel from February 10-21. Tepper worked with Javier and emerging artist Meiya Sidney to curate the exhibit.

The “Year of the Dragon” mural was painted on the wall of what is now known as Lovejoy’s Pickle Room, a bar offering both food and drinks. The Pickle Room used to be a Chinese restaurant called Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens. The Chung family opened the restaurant in 1947, serving customers for over 60 years.

The historic building, which is now home to the new mural, is located on E. Canon Perdido Street. According to The Channels, the street used to be home to the Chinatown and the Japantown in Santa Barbara.

“There wasn’t a lot of awareness around Japantown and Chinatown. They used to exist and thrive here, in what’s known as the Presidio neighborhood,” Tepper said in an interview with The Channels. “I really wanted to represent Asian American communities, Pacific Islander communities, and build awareness in our community that the history of Santa Barbara is really inclusive. I was born the year of the dragon, so there’s always an interest in putting a dragon mirror on one of historical buildings in what used to be Chinatown and Japantown.” 

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