Funds for mural program sought

cpride@losbanosenterpriseOctober 25, 2013 

As the end of the year approaches, the Planning Department has kicked fundraising efforts for its mural program into high gear by selling 2014 calendars featuring the city’s history.

Assistant Planner Stacy Elms said the calendars, which show Los Banos during the first half of the 20th century, are being sold for $10 at City Hall. Elms said the money will go toward creating murals throughout downtown Los Banos.

“We have a list that was created by the (Los Banos) Arts Council and the Chamber of Commerce,” said Elms. “This is an idea they had actually started and they have a list of 13 locations (for murals).”

The list includes Wool Growers, the side of the Farm House and Sixth Street Diner, among others. Elms said the murals, like the calendars, will be about the history of Los Banos. She said they will be 8-by-20 panels that will be painted by community members in a paint-by-numbers fashion. She said an artist will be hired to help with design and putting finishing touches on the paintings.

Geneva Brett, president of the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce, said she’s been a proponent of murals in downtown since a 2009 trip to Barstow. A mural there was so compelling, she said she got out of her car to take a closer look it. Brett said she believes good murals in downtown could do the same thing to motorists traveling through town on Highway 152.

“This would be great for Los Banos,” Brett said. “Our community doesn’t have an identity. These historic murals will tell people who we are.”

Brett said many residents of Los Banos do not know of the city’s rich history. The murals and the community’s participation in creating them will serve to educate.

The city’s Economic Development Advisory Committee is also involved in the mural program. Ann McCauley, a committee member, said she likes that residents will be doing the painting.

“If you just have somebody putting these things up, that’s their work. The community didn’t have a role,” she said.

McCauley said she’d like to see the murals in themed sections so the art blends.

Brett said she believes murals will make walls less likely to be tagged by graffiti artists. The murals will also have anti-graffiti coating.

The murals are estimated to cost about $5,000 each. Elms said selling the 2014 calendars has raised $3,000 so far. She said the city is also exploring grants.

Brett believes the murals will inspire people to support the program financially.

“Once we get the first mural up, people are going to want to donate so we can have more,” she said.

Brett and McCauley want to see murals portraying the Buffalo Soldiers and the tomato industry, but they are also asking the public for ideas that reflect Los Banos.

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