When the Sacramento Mural Festival kicks off its weeklong run tomorrow, 12 artists will begin to transform blank walls into works of art. But is this public art or a private venture?
Maybe it’s both.
Photo gallery: From Blank Walls to Original Art
Artist Roster for Sacramento Mural Festival
Michelle Blade of Los Angeles: Chase Bank at 1300 21st St.
Jake Castro of Sacramento: Crest Theatre at 1013 K St.
Kristin Farr of Richmond: Kaiser Permanente garage at 6th and J streets
David Fiveash of Sacramento: Light rail station at 1025 R St.
Dog and Pony Creative of Los Angeles: Chinatown Alley behind 1236 C St.
Nate Frizzell of Los Angeles: Faces Nightclub at 2000 K St.
Kelly Graval (known as RISK) of Los Angeles: Crepeville at 1730 L St.
Diogo Machado (known as Add Fuel) from Portugal: Warehouse Artist Lofts at 1108 R St.
Drew Merritt of Los Angeles: Sacramento Native American Health Center at 2020 J St.
Irubiel Moreno of Sacramento: Mogavero Architects at 2012 K St.
Alicia Palenyy of Sacramento: E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts at 2420 N St.
Andrew Schoultz of San Francisco: The Elliott Building at 1530 J St.
While public art is commissioned for government-owned spaces and paid for with public funds, the Sacramento Mural Festival takes place mostly on private property and is funded entirely through private contributions. Still, this inaugural event is “in the public realm,” says Shelly Willis, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.
Event: The Sacramento Mural Fest
“This project is all about process and imagination — an opportunity for the public to come and watch the artistic process in action,” Willis says. “It’s almost like a seven-day performance, and the artists are the performers. At the end, of course, these murals will dot our city alongside many of the other murals that have existed here for decades.”
The festival is sponsored by the nonprofit Friends of SMAC and co-chaired by two of its board members: Cheryl Holben and David Sobon. Beau Basse of LaBasse Projects, which has produced art events around the world, was brought in as project manager and co-curator. Title sponsor Sutter Health and a number of local businesses, including each mural host site, have privately funded the festival.
From 48 applicants, the selection committee chose 12 muralists and assigned them to sites in downtown and Midtown Sacramento (see roster sidebar).
Event: Remarkable Artists discussion
“A lot of care has been taken to create a group of artists who are stylistically very different and work with everything from figurative work to landscape to abstraction,” Willis says. “When we began talking about this project, we really wanted a wide variety of voices. So there’s a combination of very established, practicing muralists to more emerging muralists. There’s a range of expertise. We also wanted to have both local and outside artists because we know this exchange can happen when you have that many artists hanging out for a week together.”
Participating in the mural festival can benefit local artists in a number of ways. In addition to receiving a $2,500 stipend, artists may “go to other cities and participate in other projects outside of Sacramento,” Willis adds, or find new business opportunities by connecting with the private sector.
“Cities all over the country have had mural traditions forever,” Willis says, citing local work by artists Stephanie Taylor, Anthony Padilla and the duo of Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel. “Murals aren’t new to this town, but what’s exciting about this project is you have all these artists working together in a concentrated period of time, and people can go watch them. That’s what’s new.”
Artist Jake Castro, whose mural will be at the Crest Theatre, says he is looking forward to having an audience for his work.
“The creative process is an exciting concept, and more often than not, it can be just as important as the final product,” Castro says. “A lot of work goes into public art — or any creative venture for that matter — and most of this happens behind the scenes. To have the opportunity to witness an artist at work is a special thing, so I’d encourage people to come out and take advantage of this unique and awesome event that is happening here in Sactown.”
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I have been involved in putting on many art events in Sacramento for over 30 years. I have worked closely with one-time art mover and shaker, Gloria Burt, and I am still on the Art Auction Committee for the KVIE Art Auction, which she primarily founded. I have acted as chair for the ASPCA Art Auction, and while president of Matrix Gallery for Women I was responsible for putting on a major fundraiser, Art in the Park. I know first hand what it is like to put on a major art event, and I have to say I have never experienced such poor advertising and communication, as I have for the Sacramento Mural Festival. I have gone to www.sacramentomuralfestival.com only to find that Safari can't find that web site. I read thoroughly, each and every article in the SN&R, Inside Sacramento, gone to every website that mentioned the mural festival, filled out my name and email address on the LaBasse Project website and asked TWICE for someone to contact me regarding where to find times, places, and dates for the artists' talks, lectures, panel discussions, tours, the trolley - all that is supposed to be going on during this, so called, auspicious event - and found NOTHING! My husband and I walked around for hours today to try and find where artists were to begin their work so we could see it progress from start to finish - we found ONE. Granted, we stuck to the J-N street area, but we were so thoroughly tired, angry, and disgusted that all we could find was one artist who had started his work off K Street at Mogavero Architects, that we just didn't have the enthusiasm any longer to go further afield and look for more. It seems ridiculous to me that the only website I could find information and tickets for a discussion we particularly want to hear was on the "Comstocks" website. I also sent an email to someone at SMAC. Out of all those I contacted not a single person, with the exception of Liv Moe from Verge, had the courtesy to get back to me. For all the media hype about what a major art event this is for Sacramento, it is surely one of the most poorly run events I've ever tried to participate in. Please don't be proud of yourselves for putting on this, what appears to be from where I'm sitting, a non-event. After circling around the Mid-town area trying to find other artists starting on a mural, we had plenty of time to observe there seemed to be no-one, other than ourselves, who was interested in your big, important for Sacramento event. I will never understand the logic of David Sobon holding a press conference for this festival two dayS after it has started! No one has yet to publicize at what time this press conference at LowBrau is to take place. You know, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to set up a spreadsheet calendar, like the one on "Comstock's Magazine" website telling people where and when each discussion, lecture, whatever else would be. I don't even have information on what topics are going to be discussed. And, trolleys? What trolleys, from where to where, what days will they be running. Even if it's only on the last day to take people to and from the ArtJam, why not tell people that? I'm sorry, but this is the most amateurishly run event Sacramento has ever seen. Below, it says, "...LaBasse Projects has produced art events around the world..." I sure hope they did a better job of it in other places. It's not just me. I've asked other people who are art enthusiasts like us and they have said the same thing. They couldn't find any information on times and places, as well. One young lady I spoke to asked if I was on Instagram, that there was information there. News Flash! Most people over 30 are not on Instagram! Please, just publish a simple calendar on your website saying where and what time things are going to happen. Everything - all in one easy place. C'mon - how hard is that? And, I will be utterly SHOCKED! if anyone gets back to me personally in response to this message. Angry and frustrated over this poorly publicized event, Shea Grimm