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.
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.
“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).
“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.”
Before the nine-day Art Hotel exhibit opened last February in downtown Sacramento, M5 Arts, the nonprofit group behind it, expected a max of 5,000 people to attend. What actually happened: Nearly 13,000 people lined up, many from the Bay Area, and some from as far as New York. People waited hours, the line often snaked around the block and several thousand people had to be turned away.
The Jade apartments are empty. The demolition crews are ready. But before the low-rent apartment building is razed to make way for a downtown Hyatt Place hotel, this 95-year-old will have one last chance to shake off a little rust. The Art Hotel is coming.