“In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities — the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.” – Paul G. Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft
Wide Open Walls is designed to celebrate the relevancy and diversity of street art, as more than 40 artists — local, national, and international — transform walls and neighborhoods throughout the downtown area and beyond. This 11-day festival (August 10-20) will also include many opportunities for the public to engage with the artists, including gallery openings, public mural tours, artists’ receptions and panels, First Friday and Second Saturday celebrations, The Wall Ball, an art-themed fundraiser for arts education, and the unique opportunity to watch artists as they create these large-scale works of art.
This year’s event adds to the region’s already respectable history of mural painting — which has produced over 600 murals over the past 40 years.
The impact of Wide Open Walls is more than just the 40+ murals that will beautify our communities; the festival represents the continuing efforts to bring art directly to the public and the ever-evolving story of Sacramento. Wide Open Walls is another bold step in the right direction for our city. The festival is our chance to showcase Sacramento’s diversity, share our story, and demonstrate our vibrancy.
The long lines around ArtHotel and ArtStreet, the numerous selfies taken at last year’s inaugural Mural Festival locations, and the popularity of Crocker Art Museum’s Warhol exhibit shows that there is a genuine interest from residents and visitors to engage in the arts in Sacramento.
What M5Arts, the group behind ArtHotel and ArtStreet, and what Wide Open Walls’ David Sobon and team continually do, is knock down the misconceptions that the general public lacks interest in the arts; it also creates greater awareness and opportunities for conversations, education, and engagement from all sides, including city and business leaders.
Sacramento’s leadership is taking a key role in reinvigorating the arts in Sacramento. Mayor Steinberg, and organizations like Visit Sacramento are championing the arts as integral pieces of our city’s fabric that can generate worldwide attention.
Visit Sacramento is a presenting sponsor for Wide Open Walls. In one of his first major moves as the organization’s new president and CEO, Mike Testa wanted Visit Sacramento to be further involved this year after seeing the visual impact last year’s festival had on our downtown and midtown areas.
“Wide Open Walls really shows the vibrancy of the arts community here,” Testa said. “And I think just as important for us, it helps create a sense of place here in Sacramento.”
Murals are much more than a way to beautify public spaces — they are crime deterrents, storytellers, sources of civic pride, and even, conversation starters.
Iconic placemaking projects throughout the nation — Miami’s Wynwood Walls, Chicago’s The Bean, Indianapolis’s INDY sign, Philadelphia’s “Love Letter” murals — have created thousands of picture perfect moments for locals and tourists alike. With social media, we have the ability to share to our world, making us all ambassadors of the places we love. During the 11-day festival, the 50+ artists participating in Wide Open Walls will be giving us new backdrops to share the beauty, diversity, and vibrancy of our city.
How will Wide Open Walls affect the perception of Sacramento both from within our city’s limits and around the world? With the city as our canvas, the possibilities are endless.