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A sea turtle now swims beneath undulating waves in the center of La Paz Park in East Salinas. The new mural, created by Lee Abellana of Salinas, adorns the back wall of a handball court, elevating the once drab concrete into the park’s center of attention.

The mural was inaugurated on Sunday in a brief ceremony that was followed by a barbecue and games for children.

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The project was organized by Joseph Frausto, executive director of the Salinas Urban Arts Project.

“What we’re trying to do is beautify the city,” he said. The Urban Arts Project gives artists a chance to promote their work and build bridges with the city and the community.

“We want to let them express themselves. With Lee’s (work), we’re trying to make a great impact,” he said.

Jacky Luna, founder of the Salinas Urban Art Project also attended the painting’s inauguration.

“The mural identifies sea life and brings the community closer to the ocean. It brings an awareness to the community and demonstrates how our daily life involves the ocean,” she said. 

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Luna was instrumental in getting the La Paz Park mural going. She founded the Salinas Urban Art Project in 2013 and was also responsible for having artists turn 30 nondescript utility boxes around the city into works of art.

Frausto had met with the kids in the neighborhood and suspected some were responsible for the tags, which were painted over to prepare for the new mural. He invited them to participate in future projects and got…