Along with many other neighborhoods, Stockton Boulevard is coming into its own – steadily rising from a long sleep. With this evolution, Emerging Murals are bringing new life and color and a visual cornucopia of art in public places. Not the usual sort of government-commissioned art, but 21st-century murals showcasing the cultural and natural diversity of the region.
We didn’t invent public murals. Decades-old murals have decorated new and old structures in Sacramento and afar. Presently, this innovative wall art is the rebirth of neglected buildings and encourages pride of ownership. Our wonderful Boulevard streetscape is the Phoenix rising.
“I’ve been an artist all my life,” says Alex Escalante. Originally from East LA, Alex has lived in Sacramento since 1974. Mostly self-taught, his primary formal art training was under the watchful eye of living legend Benny Barrios, a long-established Sacramento artist.
Alex, previously commissioned by Charles McClatchy in 2002, completely restored the mural, adding a few “tweaks.” The mural, Tonantzin is an Aztec deity –Mother Earth. The theme embraces complete harmony and balance. Two rivers emerging from her hands come full circle. “Water is life – Mother Earth is in control. And the return of the salmon—symbolically Tonantzin is the spawning ground. Murals, especially in struggling communities, inspire kids and give them something to think about. The arts belong in all public domains – emerging and existing.”
The artist, who prefers to be known as 2Hermano, was born and raised in North Sacramento. Art was not foremost in his thoughts. “I was very left-brained really into logic and math,” says 2Hermano. “Then in 2006, after a trip to Costa Rica, I began questioning my purpose.”
2Hermano had never drawn or doodled. After buying a small paint set, he began collaborating with his brother who was sculpting. “I still haven’t reached my peak. This is all still new to me, from barely picking up a pencil to freehand spray painting on a wall.”
The new mural was many months of creative planning. Local Latino and Latina high school students and 2Hermano collaborated to create a visual interpretation of the students’ culture and family. Their ideas tied to the Folklórico-style of performing arts at Instituto Mazatlán de Bellas Artes (IMBA).
In 1976, while in his senior year of high school, Mike received his first commission to paint a mural at Cal Skate University near Stockton Boulevard. More than 40 years later, Mike’s artistry now embellishes two Boulevard businesses. Known for his sports artwork and murals, these latest creations speak to the beauty of our natural world – wildlife in the California Delta including a great blue heron and three dazzling peacocks. “I love the beauty of birds and spend time observing them at nearby wildlife areas,” Mike reveals.
During the painting process, Mike attracted grateful admirers. Full of symbology, peacocks and great blue heron represent dignity, vision, awakening, guidance, longevity, strength and grace. “Through my art, I want to convey a positive message about community values and ideals we can all embrace.”