SDSU seeks support and love to save Rock n’ Roll mural

by Amanda Guerrero

A quote at the bottom of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” mural painted by San Diego State students in 1976 reads: “May this mural bring you peace of mind.”

SDSU Department of Anthropology Chair Seth Mallios said his own peace of mind will come when the mural, once housed inside the Backdoor that was part of the former Aztec Center, is restored to campus.

Mallios and the SDSU library staff will host “Saving the Murals & Lovin’ the Music,” a Valentine’s Day-themed event where Mallios will share the story of the mural as well as the history of rock ‘n’ roll at at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at SDSU.

After raising approximately $15,000 to remove and store the mural before the demolition of Aztec Center in 2011, Mallios is working alongside the SDSU library staff to raise the remaining funds necessary to place the mural back on campus.

The winner of the Valentine’s Day writing contest will also be announced during the event.

Dean of Library and Information Access Gale Etschmaier said the writing competition and Valentine’s Day event are intended to raise awareness of and garner support for the restoration of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” mural.

“We’ve been trying to really generate that excitement that I think people have for this mural, for this memory,” Etschmaier said. “The Backdoor and the music at San Diego State have touched the lives of so many students who have been here.”

Journalism and media studies senior David Rozul, who frequented the Backdoor as a member of the cultural organization Andres Bonifacio Samahan, said he is glad to see part of the former student union being preserved.

“I was really sad when they started to tear down Aztec Center, but I’m really glad that our school is incorporating part of our campus history,” Rozul said.

Mallios worked in other artwork preservation efforts, but said he is especially excited about this particular mural.

“This was the first one that just completely took my breath away,” Mallios said, describing the vibrant colors used to depict Aztec warriors playing modern instruments, with one warrior strumming an electric guitar and another with drumsticks in hand.

The mural once lined a “performers-only” hallway leading to the stage at the Backdoor, a venue where artists ranging from Bob Marley and Ray Charles to Metallica and Ella Fitzgerald performed for the SDSU community before becoming headline stars.

“When everyone’s in college years, it’s this rite of passage where you’re turning into who you’re going to be,” Mallios said. “The same thing is happening for these bands.”

Etschmaier said she has no doubt the mural will soon hang in the library, where a spot is already reserved.

“I’m quite confident that we’ll raise the money and that we’ll be able to install this mural and that it will become part of the culture of the library,” Etschmaier said.

If the money to complete the restoration is raised, the mural will be placed in the hallway leading to the 24/7 Study Area in the Dome. Mallios said he looks forward to completing the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” mural’s journey from a secluded hallway to an open space for all members of the SDSU community to admire.

“In my mind, the first purpose of art is how it makes you feel and this one just makes you feel great,” Mallios said.

“Saving the Murals & Lovin’ the Music” will be hosted in Love Library 108. The event is free and open to the public.