Arts & Theater

Sacramento Mural Festival takes over city walls with energy, creativity

Sacramento Mural Festival paints the city beautiful

Between August 20 and August 27th, 2016 artists from near and far created about a dozen murals on empty walls in midtown and downtown Sacramento during Sacramento Mural Festival. This video tours the several of them, in progress and finished. Musi
Up Next
Between August 20 and August 27th, 2016 artists from near and far created about a dozen murals on empty walls in midtown and downtown Sacramento during Sacramento Mural Festival. This video tours the several of them, in progress and finished. Musi

Sacramento’s central city will soon double as a giant, paint saturated canvas. Many of these art works will be created on an especially grand scale, up to four stories tall in some instances, and require scaffolds, boom lifts and a small crew of volunteers to complete.

And when the last bit of paint has dried, Sacramento’s cityscape won’t ever look quite the same.

The Sacramento Mural Festival debuts Saturdayand runs through Aug. 27. The festival features more than a dozen artists from Sacramento and beyond who will spend the week creating colorful, large-scale art works on the sides of buildings and other public spaces. The idea is to transform otherwise drab walls and some sketchy downtown alleys into places of energy and art appreciation, with an overall purpose of raising money for art programs in local schools.

When you look up at a 40-foot mural that’s 100 feet long, think about the kind of impact that’s going to have.

David Sobon, co-founder, Sacramento Mural Festival

“You will drive down J Street and the impact will be huge,” said David Sobon, the Sacramento auctioneer and nonprofit fundraiser who co-founded the festival. “To me, this is about beautification and to activate these walls and alleys in different parts of the city. When you look up at a 40 foot mural that’s 100 feet long, think about the kind of impact that’s going to have.”

As the week unfolds, onlookers can watch these new works coming to artistic life. Eleven locations will double as makeshift art studios for creating these murals, which will be unveiled throughout downtown and midtown Sacramento. They can be found as far west as 5th and J streets, on a building owned by Kaiser Permanente which will get a colorful makeover courtesy of Kristin Farr, a noted Bay Area visual artist and creator of KQED’s “Art School” video series.

The alley behind the Crest Theatre at 10th and K streets, a notoriously squalid spot, will soon smell of fresh paint. Jake Castro of Sacramento will add one of those walls to his artistic resume, which includes previous murals in such far flung places as Spain, Thailand and Chicago. Castro also created the exterior mural for Sacramento’s Art Hotel, a temporary gallery of sorts in which dozens of artists revamped the soon-to-be-demolished Jade Apartments on Seventh Street into a center of Sacramento artistic expression.

The murals will reflect influences and styles including graffiti art, expressionistic touches and illustrative design. All paint and materials are provided to the artists, who also receive a $2,500 stipend.

Castro is known for a vibrant, geometrical visual style, all with a spirit that reflects the energy of city streets. Castro expects his work to take about five days to complete, a process that includes a detailed amount of measuring to ensure the imagery pops to the fullest.

“I’m planning on pushing my creative process and skill set in order to produce a bold and vibrant piece that will add to the artistic landscape of downtown,” Castro said in an e-mail. “I hope this will help start a broader conversation on the amazing potential of the Sacramento art scene and increase appreciation for local artists.”

The murals will reflect a spectrum of influences and styles, including graffiti art, expressionistic touches, illustrative design and much more. All paint and other materials are being provided to the artists, who will also receive a $2,500 stipend for participating.

Along with Sobon, the festival is being produced in conjunction with Beau Basse of LeBasse Projects, a public art consulting agency based in southern California. The artists were given a free reign to come up with their proposed designs, which ultimately needed to be approved by the buildings’ owners. The agreement entails that the murals will stay up for at least a year, and in some cases the freshly painted murals may ultimately become a permanent fixture of the buildings.

“The hope is that (the murals) will improve the value and recognition of the buildings,” said Sobon. “It’ll make an average building turn extraordinary for the art that’s on it.”

The weeklong festival also includes fundraising events to benefit arts education in public schools, including a closing “Art Jam” party on top of a parking structure at 21st and L streets that includes food, drink and arty endeavors.

Read Next

But the expectation is that the mural locations become mini party spots of their own as the work on them flourishes throughout the week. And by the end of it all, Sacramento will have undergone a much needed artsy makeover that will further encourage a creative spirit around the city.

“The mural festival is a great chance to further highlight Sacramento’s booming art scene,” said Castro. “There is so much going on in the Sac art scene right now and it is really exciting to be a part of such a creative movement.”

Editor’s note: This story has updated to reflect that KQED Art School is a video series.

Across downtown and midtown Sacramento, artists will spend the week at a dozen locations turning blank walls turn into colorful scenes as part of the Sacramento Mural Festival. Festival promoter Friends of the Arts Commission encourages people to

Chris Macias: 916-321-1253, @chris_macias

Sacramento Mural Festival

More than a dozen artists will transform city walls and public spaces into works of art.

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 20 through Aug. 27

COST: Free to watch the artists create. An “ArtJam” closing party and fundraiser will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 at 2015 L St., Sacramento which includes food and art installations; $100, $175 per couple.


Sacramento Mural Festival murals map 


  • 1. 5th and J streets (artist: Kristin Farr)
  • 2. 10th and K streets (artist: Jake Castro)
  • 3. 1108 R St. (artist: Add Fuel)
  • 4. Chinatown Alley, between C and D streets (artists: Dog and Pony)
  • 5. 1530 J St. (artist: Andrew Schoultz)
  • 6. 1730 L St. (artist: Risk)
  • 7. 2000 K St. (artists: Nate Frizzell, Irubiel Moreno)
  • 8. 2012 K St. (artists: Nate Frizzell, Irubiel Moreno)
  • 9. 2020 J St. (artist: Drew Merritt)
  • 10. 21st and Capitol (artist: Michelle Blade)
  • 11. 24th and N streets (artist: Alicia Palenyy)
Related stories from Sacramento Bee