Sac Republic FC gives artists a chance to win a shot at a Wide Open Walls mural

Heather Gorton’s spray-paint art certainly stands out from the competition.

As 10 artists put together their creations at Papa Murphy’s Park on Tuesday morning for Sacramento Republic FC’s “Paint the Park” contest, the soccer theme was obvious. Most artists featured literal soccer balls and players.

Not Gorton.

The Folsom artist drew an outline of a woman’s head and began filling in her design with spray paint on a huge piece of wood. Her work will be on display along with nine other artists around Papa Murphy’s Park on Wednesday night as Sac Republic plays Las Vegas in a game nationally televised by ESPNews.

“It looks like a female form but it’s actually just a person in spirit, maybe a fan or a player on the team, and my whole theme is exploring strength and perseverance, which is what the players, the team and the whole sport is all about,” Gorton said.

The team teamed up with Sacramento nonprofit Wide Open Walls to put on the event. Finalists will be selected by the team and Wide Open Walls after Wednesday’s game and then put to a public vote. The winner gets $1,000 and is prequalified for the 2020 Wide Open Walls mural festival.

The prizes attracted artists of all stripes. While Gorton is a part-time artist – barista by day, painter by night – Richard Jacobo is a full-time artist. Still, the Yuba City man said he wasn’t sure his portrait of a muscular player sprinting at high speed would make the cut.

“I submitted my design and then crossed my fingers and waited,” Jacobo said of applying for the contest.

It’s his dream just to make the finals, for the exposure and the experience, Jacobo said.

That was a theme shared by many of the artists. Another theme: bears. Many of the paintings feature a bear prominently, or a reference to bears.

It was evident even in Gorton’s painting, titled “Strength and Perseverance,” which features a female identity because she wanted to pay homage to the California Storm, Sacramento’s professional women’s team. Atop the face is a giant bear paw print. Fans can see it for themselves Wednesday night.

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