The first phase of Pajaro Valley Arts’ (PVA) annual Moveable Murals exhibit has been installed in downtown Watsonville, and this year’s show brings something new into the mix.
Now in its third year, Moveable Murals showcases local artists in public venues across the city. This year’s exhibit, “An Act of Love—Wearing Masks During the Pandemic” features murals by local artists and photography collages featuring Pajaro Valley residents wearing protective face masks.
The collages and two of the murals were installed last week at 250 Main St., and another mural is scheduled for installation next month. They will remain up for a full year.
PVA’s Judy Stabile, who heads up Moveable Murals, said their intent with the theme was not only to raise awareness of the importance of wearing masks during the pandemic, but also to demonstrate how people’s personalities can come through despite doing so.
“Wearing masks is critical at this juncture,” Stabile said. “It’s the easiest way to protect you and your loved ones. We wanted to show the community that you still have an identity, your personality can still shine through, even when you wear a mask.”
“An Act of Love” was funded by the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust. PVA worked closely with the city of Watsonville and the Watsonville Parks and Recreation Commission on the project. They put a call out for artists in November to submit ideas for murals, and asked residents to send in images of themselves, family and friends (including pets) and/or essential workers for the collages.
Selected images were submitted by Genevieve Daly, Kimberly deLucia, Brianna Flores, Linda Martin, Marianne Nagel, Joey Ontiveros, Graciela Vega and Karen Lemon.
Lemon designed the collages, digitized by PVA’s Hedwig Heerschop, and then printed on vinyl banners by Safari Signs. Installation was completed by a small team from the city: Grant Adams, Miguel Navarrete and Rex Rackley.
“This truly is a community project,” Stabile said. “Everyone has come together to make it happen.”
Two pieces by Watsonville artist Erik Davison, titled “Wear Together,” were chosen to be featured. They depict a group of individuals with symbols of pandemic-era safety: masks, sanitizer and social distancing.
Davison, who is relatively new to the region, said it is his first time having a public art piece.
“I’ve been wanting to do public art for a while,” he said. “It’s a great way to promote positivity, and creativity in a community. With this piece … I wanted to show the diversity of cultures here, to represent all walks of life.”
Davison said he initially submitted one design, but PVA responded and asked him to do a second mural to go with it.
“Especially since I’m new to this community, I feel honored to have been asked,” he said.
Next month, the second phase of “An Act of Love” will be installed, with a series of four hand-painted murals by Watsonville artist Jaime Sanchez, titled “Flying Together.” The murals will depict colorful birds wearing masks, and will be situated adjacent to the other pieces.
When completed, the exhibit will spread across the entire Main Street side of the building, viewable from cars, bikes and pedestrians passing through downtown.
PVA is also extending the deadline for entries into its “Wear a Mask” poster contest to April 7. The contest invites artists of all ages to submit poster designs that tell their Covid-19 story. They can illustrate everything from how the virus has impacted their family, to places they want to visit after the pandemic.
Drawings, paintings, photographs and collages will be accepted. Artists can submit up to three designs. No entry fee is required, and two $50 gift certificates to Kelly’s Books in Watsonville will be awarded. Download a form at bit.ly/3810Y90. Email the form with jpeg file(s) to [email protected].
Stabile said she is grateful to the local arts community, and eager to work on new projects. The organization hopes to reopen their gallery soon and is continuing to work on projects at Ramsay Park, local schools and with other nonprofits.
“It is truly our mission to bring the community together through the arts,” Stabile said.
For more information, visit pvarts.org.