First came Art Hotel, the incredible assembly of artists who took over downtown’s old Jade Apartments for a week in February. Their experiment in visual art drew hundreds of spectators and raised the bar for art in this city.
Up next is the Sacramento Mural Festival, an event two years in the making. Can it pick up where Art Hotel left off?
Beginning Aug. 20, a dozen muralists from Sacramento and around the world will be given control of blank walls around the central city. They’ll spend the following week transforming those walls into murals. Tours of the work will be given, lectures held and don’t be surprised if more than a few pop-up parties break out.
The mural locations will be announced during a news conference Aug. 22 at midtown’s LowBrau. Most of the work will be centered around Jazz Alley in midtown, running between J and K streets. But murals will also be painted in other parts of the grid.
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The festival culminates with ArtJam, a party on top of the parking garage at 21st and L streets the night of Aug. 27. Tickets can be purchased at www.friendsofsmac.org and proceeds will help fund arts education programs in local schools.
So far, 10 artists have been announced for the mural festival, but co-organizer David Sobon said he expects at least two more to be added. Four of the artists are local, including Jake Castro, who painted the mural covering the front of Art Hotel.
Sobon, a prominent art collector and auctioneer, has been working on the event for two years. He said the festival is beginning modestly, but he expects it to grow. Neighborhoods outside midtown are already clamoring to host future festivals.
“The grid is a good place to start because there are a lot of things going on right now,” he said.
Sacramento’s art scene is clearly underrated. But the city also has aspirations of joining places like Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and Denver on the list of America’s great cities for public art.
That’s not to discount the years of work by talented people here. The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission oversees a public art program with more than 650 works. It’s that program that is helping to fund roughly $10 million worth of public art in and around Golden 1 Center. The arts commission also played a central role in organizing the mural festival.
There’s an entire colony of artists living in lofts on R Street and work by talented local artists can already be found in midtown alleys and on coffee shops in Oak Park.
But Sacramento is clearly in a moment right now – and it’s just starting.
“If you take a look at what the kids did with Art Hotel, it was freaking amazing,” Sobon said. “Now, do you have any idea how many blank canvases we have in Sacramento? We could do a thousand murals.”
As we wait for solid word on what the organizers of Art Hotel have planned next, here’s hoping the Sacramento Mural Festival keeps the city’s creative appetite satisfied – and then some.