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Was That Mural Here Yesterday?

Hi.  I’m Walking Bob, and I’ve had several friends whose reaction inspired the title of this article.  It seems like Davis gets a new mural every week or two, some on well-traveled streets and others on alleys that take a little more wandering to find.  If one doesn’t fit your personal artistic tastes, wait a couple of weeks, and the next one probably will.  You can pick up an ever-changing map of the sculptures and murals, including the Kelly Detweiler mural on The Post Office shown here, at the John Natsoulas Gallery.  Better yet, show up at the gallery a bit after 11 a.m. on any Saturday to join the Transmedia Art Walk that begins promptly at 11:15 in front of the gallery.

John Natsoulas has been the organizer and main source of funding for these murals and the sculptures that appeared around town earlier this year.  He brought together what has been loosely described as “The Davis Mural Team,” a phrase commemorated in this mural on the side of Original Steve’s Restaurant on F Street.  In fact, all but two of the faces in the full mural, which is shown at the end of the article, belong to members of the “team.”  How many can you identify?

Since the art is on private property, John Natsoulas had to get permission from each property owner before beginning the work.  The City Council of Davis expressed some strong interest at their March 2012 meeting, but to this point the funding has mostly come from John Natsoulas and his gallery.  Although Ace’s Jennifer Anderson contributed funding to the process, most business owners simply provided the canvas for the creativity that has been seen across Davis.  This mural by Kerry Rowland-Avrech is between Ace and the railroad tracks.

Each mural is based on other works of the lead artists whose names are identified with the final murals.  They  begin with rough sketches before bringing on the mural team to complete the painting.  Some are gridded like I remember doing in junior high art class while others are sketched out with a more freehand style.  This is how Joseph Becerra’s “The Quantum Sea” looked before it was converted to the mural shown in the headline.

How do five to ten creative artists sublimate their own creative impulses to follow the guidance of a lead artist with his or her own vision?  Pretty well, actually.  Creative suggestions do surface here and there, but the team seems glad to accept the fact that the lead artist has the final say, and they work to get the final product to come as close to the artistic vision of the original artist as possible. That’s lead artist Myron Stephens on the left as his mural was being created at KetMoRee Thai Restaurant on G Street.

Muralists have to start somewhere, so I thought you should see a future draft choice of the Davis Mural Team at work.  This is Isabelle Azar starting a mural that will soon be augmented by the work of other young artists from crawlers in diapers to five- or six-year-olds who come to Davis ArtsPlay.  ArtsPlay is a drop-in program for children, parents and grandparents in the Fellowship Hall of Davis Community Church on C Street.  Their next session is coming up on August 25 from nine to noon if you want to join your budding artist at the event.

Here is a full view of the mural titled “Tribute to Davis Mural Painters and Pieter Bruegel The Elder” that was mentioned above.  The muralists in the left top window are Kelly Detweiler and William Maul.  The other top window shows Myron Stephens, Kerry Rowland-Avrech, Guy Diehl, and Jennifer Pochinski.  That’s 16th Century painter, Pieter Bruegel The Elder in the lower floor window and John Natsoulas carrying the flag.  The other four people, from left to right, are Joe Bellacera, Victoria Smith, “Original Steve” Wilkinson, and James Chaffee.  Click on the artists’ names to see more of their work.

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