We had the good fortune of connecting with Carlos Quezada and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Carlos, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I see risk as a necessary challenge in order to progress in almost every aspect. The only risk guaranteed to fail is the risk not taken. Risk taking has always been a part of my life. A trait instilled by my mother who fearlessly struggled and always faced challenges head on. Being the only boy and the youngest, I was constantly volunteered to do the “dirty work” of public relations for our family, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise by helping me learn English that much quicker. An elementary school assignment on a foreign country planted the seed to travel to France one day. Financially we were poor so traveling to France was like going to the moon; impossible. Though my mom couldn’t provide the funds, she never took away the opportunity for me to try to figure it out for myself. That opportunity came in High School with foreign exchange programs and the support of my teachers who not only helped me with paperwork but also funds. In the end, this little skinny kid from the middle of nowhere received a full scholarship to attend his Sophomore year in France, which led to future adventures to England, Spain, Brazil and becoming a polyglot. Love City Heights was inadvertently created and before it even existed, we had to make the decision of whether to risk undertaking such a massive and vulnerable project or to stand on the sidelines. Painting murals on businesses for the betterment of the community that are exposed to possible vandalism was a risk we were willing to make, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Our bet on that risk proved promising with 24 murals still standing, participation from dozens of businesses and artists along with recognition from local organizations and the City of San Diego.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am not an artists per se. I don’t paint murals nor own a business which I believe puts me in a unique spot to see both sides of the coin when it comes to public art by making sure it is time worthy for the artist and profitable for both. Funds have been one of Love City Heights’ ongoing challenges which is why having raised over $13,500 is one of the proudest achievements we’ve accomplished. Some of our murals have been vandalized and even completely removed which is a lesson lived and learned. Luckily we did. Another accomplishment I’m very proud of is having someone to restore vandalized murals to their original state. This allows us to keep up with the “taggers” and fight back as quickly as possible to show that it’s not welcome in our neighborhood and take back our community instead of being a victim to territoriality. We have completed 24 murals in 3 years from local, national and international artists which is unheard of from such a small, grassroots organization such as ours, and we will continue to create murals, engage businesses, better our community and support the youth. In 2018 Ruben Rojas, international artist, Co-Founder of Beautify Earth and TED talk presenter, created a mural for our #theavenuemuralproject called LOVE. It stands as a staple of our community. LCH does more than just create murals, it has also partnered with Mindful Murals and local Elementary Schools to beautify playgrounds and “adopt a family” for Christmas providing food, a tree, presents and an opportunity to share their story.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
LCH’s Drive Thru Mural Gallery (University Ave. b/w 805 fwy &15fwy) Terralta Park Chicano Park (Victor Ochoa) Balboa Park (Museums/Frisbee Golf/Old Globe Theater/Outdoor Spreckles Pavillion Concert/Centro Cultural de la Raza) Fair@44th Padre Game ( if in season) City Farmer’s Nursery/Nate’s Garden Grill South Bay Drive-In Theater/Santee Drive-In Theater Little Saigon Golden Hill/South Park

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give credit to: My mother: Maria Eugenia Montoya Suarez My French Host Parents: Therese Guilloteau & Jean-Pierre Tremel LCH team: Brittnee Woodard, Edwin Lohr, Melody De Los Cobos, Erika Ramirez and Karla Leathers. Donors: Price Philanthropies & Huntington Ingall Industries ———————————————————————————————————————————– Mentor/Youth Artists: Isaias Crow/Andrew Greyeyes, Melody De Los Cobos/Nadia Sanchez, Brise Birdsong/Naomi GonzalezMartinez Businesses 92104/9105 : Super Cocina, Tresure Trove, 7/Eleven, Disfrutlas, Tire Express, Las Morelianas, University Pawn Broker, Rosie’s Auto Finders, Sunset Kava, Nan’s Tires & Wheels, Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal M.I. San Diego

Website: www.lovecityheights.org
Instagram: @Llovecityheights
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoveCityHeights/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUzzsUDUoo4
Other: https://www.kpbs.org/news/2017/jun/15/first-comes-art-then-comes-party-then-comes-commun/ http://speakcityheights.org/mural-artists-partner-with-city-heights-businesses/ https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/san-diego/story/2019-10-01/group-rallies-and-saves-city-heights-mural

Image Credits
7/Eleven Bear Necessities by GMONIK – Danie Ginwatsu (Guys painting) – Juan Carlos GonzalezMartinez Founders Selfie – Brittnee Woodard All others – LCH