After working for days on end, I finally was able to complete one of the biggest projects of my career. Spanning just over 227 feet, the Public Art piece at Jack Farrell Park culminated a years worth of work. After initially receiving a Creative Work Fund Grant, we set upon this course to create something innovative, different, and powered by the community.
The "we" in this case, were The Mural Music and Arts Project, myself, key members of the community, and a few youth artists. As part of the grant, we needed to work in areas deemed to be "Hot Spots", the city's most dangerous locations, areas plagued by gun violence. After viewing a number of locations we settled with Jack Farrell Park. We decided to push the envelop in the sense of the sheer size of the work, it is too wide to fit in a simple photo.
Over time we were able to engage many, many members of the community, and various stakeholders to get input in everything from the scope of the work, to ideas of colors, concepts, and content. This level of community engagement culminated with a large design workshop hosted at East Palo Alto City Hall. From that design workshop, there were themes that bubbled up for the artwork. The community wanted something robust, progressive, celebratory, and vibrant. In the end, I think we delivered that.
The colors and shapes bob and weave, ebb and flow. The central them is one of "CELEBRATION", capturing all of the "Voices of EPA", into a singular song. While installing the work, we had to fight the weather, sometimes painting in the rain. Wiping the walls down with towels and getting some protection from the trees, we plied our trade.
The one thing that stood out from the whole installation was the level of community interaction. Everyday, as we worked, people walked by, took pictures, talked with us, and on occasion even painted with us! The commentary was overwhelmingly positive, and the variety from which the positivity came from was telling. Kids, adults, Black, Latino, White, and your neighborhood "rogue", all from The Town, cheered us on from start to finish.
This was a journey that stretched my sensibilities as an artist, both from a creative standpoint and a physical one, after all, it is 227 feet!