SDSU unveils historic rock ‘n’ roll mural

by Kelly Hillock, Editor in Chief

San Diego State unveiled the restoration of a campus rock n’ roll mural in the Love Library on Thursday, Oct. 29.

The mural was originally at the old Aztec Center — specifically, the mural hung in the back of the popular underground music venue, “The Backdoor,” located behind the bowling alley.

Four years ago, when the student body voted to renovate Aztec Center to become the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, the mural was scheduled to be demolished. A crowdsourcing campaign saved the mural with a minute to spare. Now, just this past week, the historic campus mural was unveiled to a gathering of faculty, alumni, students and community members.

The reception was held on the third floor of the Love Library and featured Aztec-themed guitars and a live performance from local band, Bread and Jam — which incidentally, is a band comprised of local SDSU and University of San Diego professors.

Then, notable university figures addressed the crowd and all emphasized the importance of art on campus. Dean of the Library Gale Etschmaier welcomed the reception guests and emphasized the importance of the arts on campus to stimulate and help grow the SDSU community. Etschmaier served a pivotal role in preserving this mural.

Associated Students President Blaire Ward praised the combined effort of students, faculty and alumni it took to save this historic mural.

“Cultures truly depend on art to capture the feeling of a time when words can’t,” Ward said.

President Elliot Hirshman spoke to the cultural importance of preserving art on campus.

“Our aspirations to be a great university must include arts programs,” Hirshman said.

Anthropology professor and campus historian Seth Mallios served a key role in restoring the mural and upholding its legacy. In addition to the mural restoration, Mallios and Interim Director of SDSU Collections Jaime Lennox partnered to publish a five-volume anthology on the rich musical legacy at SDSU, which was available for purchase at the ceremony.

In his speech, Mallios detailed the origin of the mural and gave an overview of some of the legendary musical acts that have traipsed through the campus through the decades.

“Our quantity of concerts is only rivaled by its quality,” Mallios said.

In fact, in a recent seven-day period, SDSU hosted a spectrum of musicals acts, such as Florence and the Machine, Janet Jackson, Hozier, Of Monsters and Men, Twenty One Pilots and My Morning Jacket.

The mural was painted by Chicano Studies professor Arturo Anselmo Roman and his Chicano mural arts class in 1976. The mural is vividly energetic. Mallios referred to the mural as “Simspons-esque,” in reference to the longest-running sitcom where a lead character is voiced by an SDSU alumna.

The ceremony ended with a performance by SDSU alumnus and successful songwriter Jack Tempin. Tempin is famed for hits such as “Already Gone,” which he performed at the ceremony.

With a mural that pays homage to pop culture and Aztec culture, a nod to The Eagles and the growing list of musical acts that grace Montezuma Mesa with their presence, this rock n’ roll mural is sure to be the backdrop for many more performances on the Mesa.

Editor’s Note: Gale Etschmaier’s name has been updated to reflect correct spelling. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email