Wide Open Walls

Along with its more traditional art scene – Crocker Art Museum, local art galleries, the 2nd Saturday Art Walk – Sacramento also boasts a growing collection of inspiring street art!

This creative art genre has been a part of the city’s landscape for years. Colorful tiles in geometric shapes adorn the concrete walls of the pedestrian tunnel connecting Old Sac to the K Street Mall (circa 1982); the amphitheater at Southside Park showcases beautiful mosaic work.

A happy baker leans out of a painted window on the parking lot side of The Bread Store, and a smiling young woman holds a refreshing bottle of Coke Cola on the wall of a corner market in midtown.

And, of course, creative works of graffiti appear – and disappear – throughout town whenever taggers find an available “canvas.”

Sacramento really stepped up its game in 2016 with the Sacramento Mural Festival, where a dozen artists (including some locals) left their beautiful mark on exterior walls in Downtown and Midtown areas.

The community response was great enough to inspire a larger, renamed version of this summertime art fest in 2017. Called “Wide Open Walls” this brainchild of event producer David Sobon is a 501(3)(c) whose mission is to promote and celebrate public art.

As Sobon says, “While many people have been to an art museum or gallery, few have ever seen a professional artist paint live. This is a way to see them in action and get engaged.” (Sacramento Visitors Guide, Summer 2017)

With an impressive list of local sponsors – from art stores to news media to law firms and  PR companies – artists are provided food, lodging (for the non-locals), painting materials and a blank canvas on a participating location within the Sacramento grid and outskirts of the city.

They are also given a deadline of approximately 10 days to complete their project; if it takes longer the artist is responsible for his or her own housing and necessities.

While there were approximately a dozen artists in 2016, over 30 were invited to participate in each of the 2017 and 2018 events. Although many are from the Sacramento area, others have come from as far away as Australia, South America, Afghanistan, the UK and Europe.

For mural locations and a map, visit the website at wideopenwalls916.com where you can also learn about the artists.

If you prefer a more serendipitous art experience, get on your bicycle, grab a friend or two, and as you pedal around midtown you’re bound to be wowed by amazing art in unexpected places!

(One personal favorite is Raphael Delgado’s Golden Bear on the east side of 21st Street between N and O Streets. Another is the word “H-U-M-A-N-I-T-Y” spelled out along Improv Alley at 7th and J Street downtown.)

(Wide Open Walls also produces other public art events throughout the year – including The Mural Jam, Sac Republic’s Paint The Park, and the Playa Art Trail. )

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Jeri Murphy

Although not a California native, Jeri Murphy has loved living in Sacramento for the past 30 years! She wears many creative hats: Professional Wedding Officiant, Travel Blogger with a focus on wheelchair accessibility, and most recently has added "Special Event Photographer" to her repertoire. Jeri is a big fan of Sacramento's street art, the Amador County wineries, and spending time with her granddog!

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