Artistic endeavors will be on display tonight, kicking off the first of three summer Artwalk events and the Downtown Tracy Mural Project 2016.
The Downtown Tracy Artwalk, in its second year, will feature musicians and visual artists on downtown sidewalks from 6 to 8:30 p.m., stretching roughly along Central Avenue from the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts to Ninth Street and along the north side of 10th Street.
William Wilson, cultural arts and civic art program manager, said the Artwalk gives visitors of all ages a unique opportunity to interact with artists.
“People see art all the time. They rarely get to experience the art with the artist there,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to ask questions, learn about their techniques — it’s an opportunity for the artist to let the community know who they are and what they do.”
The June Artwalk will feature nearly 40 artists, including three musical acts, six visual artists and six art collectives. Some artists will give demonstrations and some will offer their artwork for sale, Wilson said. Families are welcome, and maps will be distributed at the event.
Artwalks are also scheduled July 8 and Aug. 12, bringing different artists to the downtown sidewalks to showcase their talents. More information is available at http://atthegrand.org/Artwalk.
Coinciding with the summer Artwalks is a new mural project. Three artists are creating themed murals this week on exterior walls of the Grand Theatre.
Wilson said last year’s mural project, a series of three temporary murals on the Seventh Street wall of the Grand, was launched as a pilot project to respond to the community’s interest in having murals downtown. The larger goal is to have the mural project eventually merge into the civic arts plan under the purview of the Tracy Arts Commission.
“We launched the program last year — it got great acclaim in the community,” Wilson said. “People didn’t want us to paint over the murals. They wanted to keep them all.”
On Friday, Kenney Mencher, Matthew Blacconerie and the team of Issac Montes and Roger Casillas will paint the Grand Theatre walls with their artistic visions.
“I can guarantee you, the building will look a little different after Friday night,” Wilson said. “What makes our mural project different than a lot of the other communities around us — this idea, we have a flexible space we can constantly create opportunities for artists to come in and work with us. It’s very cool.”
Mencher, who is the Grand’s artist in residence this summer, will create a streetscape with a “Planet of the Apes” theme on Seventh Street. Wilson said the piece will provide a photo opportunity for visitors to pose on a bench with the mural wrapping around them.
Blacconerie, who painted the July mural for the inaugural project last year, will create an animal-themed multipanel work in door and window insets along Jackson Alley north of the Grand Theatre box office.
Montes will work together with Casillas, a ceramic artist and educator, to complete a mural with an extraterrestrial theme under a streetlight on Seventh Street that will keep it illuminated at night.
Wilson said the artists planned to begin on Thursday by blocking out the space for their designs and finish them during this evening’s Artwalk, which ends at 8:30 p.m.
“We are essentially building a temporary collection at this point, expanding the location where murals can happen in downtown, first and foremost at this complex, so we have multiple spaces on Seventh Street and multiple spaces on Jackson Alley,” Wilson said.
The murals are designed to be temporary projects, lasting from a few weeks to a few years. New murals will be added during the July and August Artwalks.
He said some downtown business owners had expressed interest in having murals on their property, too.
“We are starting to change the streetscape — we have a landmark sculpture that has gotten national attention, people want more,” Wilson said. “We left the mural on the corner of Central and Seventh from August because people came up to us and said, ‘Please don’t paint over it, we love seeing it.’”