Between now and May 18, local artists will literally paint the town, transforming this corner of Roseville through three public art programs: 1) 5 new murals in Downtown Roseville, 2) a special Veterans Mosaic Mural in the Lohse Apartment Lobby, and 3) a Youth Mural Camp and respective mural at Blue Line Arts.
As artists work, the public is invited to see the creative process in action through self-guided walking tours along Vernon Street and artsy events during the week of May 13.
The Roseville Mural Project is a huge project for the Placer County arts institution. While best known for its exhibitions, Blue Line Arts, under the direction of Abrames and fellow co-Executive Director MaryTess Mayall, is revamping its programming to make the arts more approachable.
And what better way to make art more accessible than by integrating it with everyday street life?
“These murals will get people out of their house and walking downtown. They might even discover a new place may have not noticed before,” says Abrames.
And yes, the success of another local mural festival helped move the Project from a concept to the walls of Downtown Roseville.
“Wide Open Walls really paved the way for us. People see what we are doing and assume that we are doing a [mini version of it.] We are kinda doing that, but through a different format,” says Abrames. “[The Roseville Mural Project] is more of a community-based effort. Artists are all local and each mural references Roseville in some way. The success of Wide Open Walls has definitely helped show the value of making art on a more populous level.”
Abrames recalls Downtown Roseville Partnership board members approaching her and Mayall in the spring of 2018 to find ways to enliven the district with public art: “Murals just seemed like a natural fit. It’s the hot trend right now and it’s also an innovative way to secure property owner buy-in and funding. And quite literally, murals are a creative way to highlight a business.”
Civic buy-in was also important for launching this volunteer effort, especially as Downtown Roseville Specific Ordinances are not keen on flashy hues.
“They have narrow guidelines on what can be put on the sides of buildings. It literally says, ‘no vibrant colors.’ Thankfully, people within the city like Mayor John B. Allard and members of the Roseville Parks and Recreation and the Economic Development see the importance of these murals. They’ve guided us and helped secure permits, design review approvals, etc. This new art is going to give downtown more character and attract new visitors. These guys get it.”
Getting moral support is one thing, but executing the vision is another. Securing mural locations proved to be quite a challenge.
Blue Line Arts began calling Downtown Roseville PBID (property business improvement district) property owners with the simple ask: would you be willing to pay to $2,500 towards having an artist paint all over your walls? (Note: The fee covers an artist’s commission. Blue Line Arts had to fundraise the rest itself and were supplemented by the PBID. Dunn-Edwards and Rainguard donated massively towards supplies, and Union Pacific was another early seed-funder.)
Some owners were sold immediately, while others needed more coaxing. Those wavering needed assurance that their voice would be heard during the selection process — after all, these designs would grace their walls for years to come. (No one ever wants a “No Ragerts” situation.)
Luckily, an inclusive design review committee structure helped ease those concerns. Property owners, City and County stakeholders, and art experts from Blue Line Arts and other galleries reviewed the slew of artist proposals submitted. Designs were critiqued based on artistic merit and creative connection to the Downtown Roseville.
“There wasn’t a theme or a lot of guidance with designs this time around, so we let imaginations run wild. What we did include in [the Request for Proposal] was a requirement that designs had to be relevant to the area. In the end, [The Roseville Mural Project] is all about creative placemaking,” explains Abrames.
Five talented Northern California artists are a part of the inaugural Roseville Mural Project:
Mural Name: Junction
Mural Location: City of Roseville Parking Structure (405 Vernon Street)
Placemaking in its most explicit form, Gainey is brightening up the parking garage adjacent to Blue Line Arts and the historic Tower Theatre with the phrase “Welcome to Downtown Roseville.” Each letter of “Roseville” contains different icons and landscapes of the city.
“I was born and raised in Roseville and the opportunity to positively impact my community with an artistic design is paramount.”
Mural Name: Native Florals and Patterns
Mural Location: Lucy’s Hair Salon (104 Lincoln Street)
Templeton’s dreamy aesthetic gives the weathered Downtown Roseville’s Rose Wall mural a modern and whimsical update. Her design features a woman among vibrant red roses against a mint green backdrop.
“As an emerging artist in the central region of California, my experience as a mural artist has been amazing. I started painting murals in helping the community see more beauty in art in public places.”
Mural Name: Dorothea Lange
Mural Location: Bill Smith Photography (111 Vernon Street)
This portrait of famed photographer Dorothea Lange is a perfect addition to the Bill Smith Photography studio. Putting a human face to events like the Great Depression and Japanese Internment, Lange’s photographs influenced documentary photography in the 20th century. Many of her notable images were taken right here in our region.
“Public art has been my passion for the past five years. I enjoy interacting with pedestrians. Their experience in seeing the progress makes them be a part of it, making an everlasting memory.”
Mural Name: Harvest
Mural Location: Abbey Carpet (501 Vernon Street)
The duo’s dark and detailed psychedelic aesthetic meets Gaia in “Harvest.” Their piece honors Mother Earth and incorporates regional flora and berries.
“My grandparents were immigrants of Mexico and relocated to Roseville where my grandfather became a laborer in the Roseville train yard and grandmother and children picked strawberries in Roseville and Lincoln.”
Mural Name: Roses are Blue
Mural Location: Project Go (801 Vernon Street)
To quote Abrames, Futrell’s mural is “the funkiest mural of the bunch.” While an abstract landscape of Roseville, the design features recognizable city landmarks throughout.
“I have done murals in Sacramento as well as the Bay Area and would love nothing more than to do one in my hometown! This would be a great experience and a fabulous way to connect with the community.”
Blue Line Arts Youth Mural Camp Teens and Ali Futrell
Mural Name: Our Neighborhood
Mural Location: Blue Line Arts Patio (405 Vernon St #100)
Made possible through the of Placer Community Foundation’s Giving Circle, the mural is a final project of a Blue Line Arts spring break art camp. Another abstract depiction of Roseville (you’ll spot Tower Theater, the Civic Center, and the Carnegie Museum), the mural was a test on teamwork. How do you produce a group piece that balances individuality while still being cohesive? Under the guidance of Ali Futrell, 12 teens successfully came together and painted this bold design on the patio of Blue Line Arts.
“[We] really wanted to present an opportunity where youth would have a stake in what is going on around them. And it actually worked! On the last day of the project, completely unprompted, a [youth artist] said, “I’m part of this city now.” It’s really rewarding when a program has the outcome that you’ve always envisioned,” says Abrames.
Women Veterans and Jennifer Iams-McGuire
Mural Name: Coming Together
Mural Location: Lohse Apartment Lobby (623 Vernon St)
Installed in the new Mercy Housing California development prior to the Project’s start, the mural was the perfect way to fulfill a public art component of Blue Line Arts’s new Veterans in the Arts program, funded by a grant from the California Arts Council. In January of 2019, Blue Line Arts partnered with the Women’s Veterans Alliance to host three free weekend workshops for women veterans. The result? A beautiful blue glass mosaic, a testament to collaboration and healing.
Along with watching artist progress on the street and online, there are many other ways for the public to engage with the Roseville Mural Project.
May 13: Design Week Sac Mural Tour & Mixer
Location: Meet at Blue Line Arts
As part of the inaugural Design Week Sacramento, the fun, free event will give attendees the backstory on how the Roseville Mural Project came to be. After a mural tour along Vernon Street, feel free to mix and mingle with artists.
May 18: Mural Crawl and Wrap Party
Location: Check-in at Blue Line Arts
Cost: General $35 | Blue Line Arts Members Free (Use code CRAWL by Wednesday, May 15 to save $10!)
The crawl is an adult twist to Downtown Roseville’s 3rd Saturday Art Walk. Part pub crawl and part public art tour, participants will get to see five murals along Vernon Street, making pit stops at The Monk’s Cellar, Goose Port, and The West House along the way.
During the crawl, guests can tap into their inner influencer and take part in an Instagram photo contest — colorful sunglasses will be even be given to each attendee. The best snaps will be eligible for unique Downtown Roseville prizes. A wrap-up party will conclude the fun at Blue Line Arts.
Although the paint has yet to dry, Blue Line Arts has its sights on making the Roseville Mural Project bigger and better in 2020 — and Abrames isn’t afraid to share them.
Some ideas include:
“[Blue Line Arts] has had so much community support this year and we feel like there is enough demand and enthusiasm for more public art like this. We’ve already had business owners come up to us and ask, ‘can I be a part of this next year?’ It is really encouraging that people recognize the value of this work. Let’s see where this movement takes us,” smiles Abrames.
Roseville Mural Project:
A note from Abrames: “If you want to get involved, please give us a call! We will always find a way for you to contribute.”