1724 Broadway St, Fresno, CA 93721, USA
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The Painting the Town Red mural is located at 1724 Broadway Street.
The mural on the south wall of 1724 Broadway was conceived and painted by a group of Edison High School students, who participated in a program called “The Muralistics”. Under the mentorship of Samantha Canales, a local artist, they created“Painting the Town Red”.
Design guidelines were given to the students and Samantha requesting:
1. Incorporate the theme of “Downtown Revitalization” into the mural.
2. Match the style of art to the vintage of the building – similar to those of wartime propaganda posters of the 1930’s and 40’s.
3. Use colors which are found inside the building, i.e. use the red on doors found in the hallway as a color in the mural.
With those guidelines, the students took it upon themselves to study some of downtown Fresno’s older landmark buildings. In addition to studying the buildings, the students also selected symbols of the citizenry to incorporate into the mural as to not lose sight of the people and artists that make downtown such an interesting place. Revitalization isn’t just about refurbished or new buildings, it is also about all who are involved in this process.
After many months of traveling around downtown learning about its unique architecture, the students created and presented 3 design concepts. Once a design was agreed upon, the physical work and transformation of a wall into a mural started.
The paint selected by the students and Samantha is used extensively in Europe for historical restorations and is favored due to its longevity and ability to remain vibrant over time. This is especially important as the wall is south facing with extensive sun exposure. Silicate paints are harmless to the environment, consisting of natural mineral compounds including quartz, inorganic mineral colorants and liquid potassium silicate used as a binder so they are considered to be a “Green” paint.
A couple of interesting notes should be made about the mural. Poet Lawson Fusao Inada is featured in the mural and appears on top of the San Joaquin Power and Light Building reading poetry from a book. Lawson was born in Fresno and has the distinct honor of being the fifth poet laureate of the U.S. state of Oregon. He was present for the mural unveiling and wrote a poem called, “Very Fresno”.
While painting the mural, the students lived on homemade salsa. If you look closely at the mural, there is a jar of salsa painted on a window sill in the San Joaquin Power and Light Building. Three of the students painted themselves into the mural. One is waving from a window in the Security Bank Building. Another sits atop the Hotel Fresno painting a portrait of 1724 Broadway. The final student is located in the bottom left hand corner dressed as a chef throwing a strawberry melded with a heart showing his passion for downtown, Fresno’s agricultural riches, and the anticipation of his studies at culinary school in Colorado.
The mural was dedicated on August 12, 2011. Many thanks to the students, Samantha Canales, and their parents for letting them create an original, only found in downtown.