Artists and muralists from around the world drop their paint strokes in the streets of Sacramento for the annual Wide Open Walls Festival, which kicked off on September 9. On the side of the storerooms, brick walls, hidden corners of buildings and parking lots, you can spot an artist creating yet another mural.
Among the 50 artists on this year’s festival list include creators from Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Nepal and. of course, Sacramento. Meet some of the artists who bring the buildings and alleys of the greater Sacramento area to life with colorful contemporary reflections, intricate portraits, and abstract artwork.
On a curved building at the University of California, Davis Cancer Center, less than two miles from her home, Ana Valentine posed her sketches of tall irises, budding tulips and a daffodil.
Before claiming her canvas in the field of contemporary botanical art, Valentine worked as a farmer at a young age, but then decided to go to school to study neuroscience. âI was looking at too many math equations and felt like part of my brain was dying,â she said.
The self-taught artist chose painting as a way to balance her learning, channeling her inspiration from the flowers she grew on the central California coast onto canvases in her kitchen. Valentine has since pursued painting full time, explaining that she would only return to school if her studies were fully funded.
His first mural was for Wide Open Walls in 2020. Just like every one of his projects, the creation – located at 2245 Stockton Blvd. – features over two dozen colors, flowers and intricate designs. For this year’s mural at the Cancer Center, Valentine paints blooming and fading flowers, supported by birds.
âThe birds behave out of the dark, which is probably what it feels like to be very sick,â said Valentine, adding that the colors of the mural will reflect the dawn that is rising in the sky. the horizon as it changes from dark blue to warm yellow.
When it comes to her designs, Valentine said she wants people to envision their own lives.
“None of them adhere to reality,” she said of her art. âThey are all surreal. I invent them from my imagination and in doing so I want people to be able to have bigger ideas in their lives. ”
To prepare for his mural at 1236 C St., the day before the festival kicked off, Joha Harrison removed the windows of the company he will be painting on. âI’m going to be really free with this,â he said over the phone, after deciding to take a 20-minute break to think about the design he wants to create.
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Harrison began to take an interest in art in elementary school. In fifth grade, he submitted to Nike an abstract shoe design, reminiscent of a stained glass window, with burgundy, orange, magenta and teal paint. After being asked to file a patent for his design at the age of 11 and in no rush to be a businessman, Harrison got into photography. With 20 years of capturing portraits and lifestyles under his belt, Harrison drew on filmmaking, while also creating colorful abstract art that often mirrors his original piece for Nike.
He said he wanted to incorporate film and photography into his mural at Wide Open Walls, which will be his first wall art. Like his previous designs, Harrison plans to use muted colors with a touch of bright hues. And while the concept for the mural is still in the works, he said he wants people to use his art as a mirror.
âBasically when they watch it I want it to be able to talk to their subconscious and unlock things,â he said. He added that he could use his abstract aesthetic, which he says gives a painting the ability to speak to each person and allows people to see something different.
Like most artists, Emily Ding was introduced to the world of expression from a young age. At 4, Ding learned ballet, while his mother took a watercolor class nearby. âI only went there because I had a sticker at the end of every ballet class,â Ding said.
What really fascinated her were the paintings in her mother’s class: still lifes, flowers, fruits, teapots and vases. âI wanted to do this,â Ding said. âI wanted to be like her.
The Houston-born artist has since painted and drawn, with many of his designs depicting animal figures and flora through shapes and silhouettes. She said she enjoyed telling stories in her paintings, drawing inspiration from Aesop’s Fables – a collection of tales, such as the tortoise and the hare – that her father gave her when she was young. With his signature use of gradients and vibrant colors, Ding also adds fluidity and movement to his depiction of the natural world.
âI love to express human emotions and experience through animals,â she said. “They can personify so many human emotions and we can relate to animals, even if they are not human.”
It wasn’t until college that Ding took a spray can for the first time and started painting large-scale walls and murals. âI thought it was so cool to paint something bigger than me and paint on a wall,â she said.
Ding’s murals can be seen across the world in Bali, Shanghai, Texas, Nevada, and California.
“[Murals] are a form of public art, âDing said. âIt’s different to hang canvases in a gallery where the public is limited. Not everyone will go to a gallery. But for the walls, it’s public art. It’s for the public, for people to benefit.
Her mural for Wide Open Walls, which will be at the Boys and Girls Club on G Street, will be her latest addition to her extensive collection. But what will this imply? Ding said “no idea,” but for now, “animals for sure.”
While the artists were in their designated wall spaces for the first day of the festival, Rigo was at a high school in the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District, where he teaches art. âI balance the work and try to do this mural too,â he said.
Mural painting is nothing new to the Sacramento-based artist. Rigo painted murals with his students and decorated a utility box, located on 3rd Street and Capitol Avenue, for Capital Box Art. âBut it’s the biggest I’ve done so far,â Rigo said. âI am delighted to do this. ”
For Rigo, art goes beyond paints and brushes. A graduate in Animation and Illustration from San Jose State University, Rigo has created sculpture, 2D digital art, and animation and has worked with Pixar, Warner Brothers, and Nickelodeon.
âI don’t like to be locked into a style or medium,â the surrealist artist said. âThis is one of the things I passed on to my students.
In his classes, Rigo said he teaches his students different techniques and art forms, hoping they will discover something they like and pursue it.
For his mural, which will be on the side of a building at 1001 Del Paso Blvd, Rigo plans to paint a tribute to Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican painter. The wall is covered in shades of black, blue-purple, light blue and pink to represent the galaxy merging with Earth. He said he would add a portrait of Kahlo, along with Aztec masks and hummingbirds – a symbol of reincarnation for the Aztecs.
Born in Santa Clara, Rigo spent much of his childhood in Mexico, before moving to California while in college. Rigo said the mural will be representative of his culture and the Mexican community.