Community mural

A community mural is pictured Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, behind the Dollar Stretcher, 501 W. Lincoln Ave. in Yakima, Wash.

Every once in a while, Yakima comes up with something that simply takes your breath away.

And thanks to Ash Cardenas and 15 other local artists, it’s happened again.

Amid the darkest days of wildfire smoke and community turmoil over COVID rates and rules, Cardenas and her friends created a collaborative mural that reminds us all of the natural beauty of unidad — unity.

The painters recently put the finishing touches on 15 panels that cover one wall of the Dollar Stretcher at 501 W. Lincoln Ave.

The work of Cardenas — along with Vanessa Bashi Alviso, Betsy Bloomfield, Elizabeth Montes Deoca, Raevyn Heneghen, Aislinn Hematyar Kalstad, Cindy Lemus, Leticia Mendoza Macedo, Amanda Ontiveros, Madeline Alviso Ramirez, Victoria Rifa, Maria Rueda, Rosie Saldaña, Carmen Selam, Esmerelda Vasquez and Jamaica Zoglman — takes a feminine view, accenting the human hues of Hispanic and Indigenous women.

After securing financial help from neighboring businesses, the artists worked for three days to complete the project. From Aug. 27-29, the work site was alive was music, laughter, food and friendship.

“It was just a street party here,” artist Betsy Bloomfield told the YH-R’s Kate Smith.

The finished mural is a joy to behold: bold brush strokes, vivid colors, moving emotions. It’s worth setting aside the time it takes to soak it all in.

It’s also worth thinking about how much a project like this does to define our community.

Artistic vision often characterizes place. Consider Seattle’s Space Needle, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Statue of Liberty. Epic examples, of course, but each conveys a clear and often grand message about local values.

We love the message this new piece of Yakima art sends.

Cardenas and the rest of these gifted women have added to the collection of community art that continues to spread throughout the Valley. Their work speaks of who we are, the struggles we still confront and the hopes we carry for the future.

It shows us faces we shouldn’t overlook. Faces we should treasure.

The women’s art, their gift to the community, blends the colors, cultures and beliefs that define the Yakima Valley.

It’s our strength: unity — unidad.