First came the mural festival that festooned buildings all over town with color. Now two new art projects aim to bring some more flare and whimsy to Sacramento's everyday landscape.
Metro Edge, the youth wing of the Sacramento Metro Chamber, has invited local artists or teams of artists to apply to participate in "Characters on Kay," a series of 12 small sculpture characters – each no bigger than a fire hydrant– planned for K Street between Old Sacramento and the Convention Center.
The idea is loosely based on Mice on Main, a series of small bronze mice in downtown Greenville, S.C.
"Metro Edge has been a big #SacramentoProud organization. We saw this as an opportunity to add another link to our artist’s culture," said Megan Blackwell, who is championing the project alongside Phil Tretheway.
Separately, Republic FC and Wide Open Walls – the organization behind Sacramento's mural festival – are looking for 50 local artists to participate in an April 7 "Paint the Park" event. Selected artists will join David Garibaldi, Raphael Delgado and Maren Conrad in beautifying the fence scrim around Papa Murphy's Park at Cal Expo.
The celebration of Sacramento art will take place prior to the Republic FC's match against the Seattle Sounders FC 2. A portion of game ticket sales will support the Wide Open Walls arts festival.
"We're excited to partner with Wide Open Walls to showcase Sacramento's diverse and growing art community," said Ben Gumpert, Republic FC's chief operating officer. "Paint the Park is an opportunity to use our platform with our fans to celebrate the work of our local artists who play an integral role in growing Sacramento as a world-class region."
David Sobon, who founded Wide Open Walls, said showcasing the work of Sacramento artists to soccer fans speaks to the festival's mission: "art for all."
Republic will supply the paint and game tickets to the 50 artists selected. The deadline to submit is March 30.
The deadline for artists to respond to "Characters on Kay" is April 13. Based on past works, three finalists will be paid $500 each to create a proposal. The project budget is expected to be $35,000 to $40,000.
"Characters on Kay is about creating a unique, walkable art experience that promotes a sense of discovery and whimsy, threading through the heart of Sacramento," reads the artists' call. "We envision a series of small sculptures characters with backstories, doing various, quintessentially Sacramento activities."
Finding the characters will be a good way for locals and visitors to explore Sacramento, said Blackwell. She said they hope to have the work installed early next year.
Despite the artistic influence of the Royal Chicano Air Force, Sacramento has long had a reputation as a sleepy government town. Former Mayor Kevin Johnson viewed art as way to help Sacramento stake its claim as a "world class city," but his For Art's Sake initiative went largely unenacted.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg, also an enthusiastic supporter of the arts, has helped loosen the rules for street performers; created a $500,000 creative economy pilot project to fund innovation in arts; food and technology; and launched an arts assessment aimed at rewriting a Sacramento arts plan.
Steinberg, addressing a forum in January, said he's proud that Sacramento is the center of government, but that is not enough to be a vibrant, desirable community.
"We've starved the arts in Sacramento for far too long," Steinberg said.
Wide Open Walls, along with Art Hotel and Art Street, recently has helped put Sacramento on the arts map, garnering national attention. During the August 2017 festival, Wide Open Walls added nearly 40 new murals to the Sacramento landscape. The arts group recently announced plans to paint a tribute to Tower Records founder Russ Solomon.