Eureka Street Art Festival
By Emily Miranda
Paint the Town
Story by Emily Miranda
Photos courtesy of VisitRedwoods.com
EACH STROKE of the brush adds more color, more depth to the masterpiece at work. The bristles sweep against the wall with determined strokes as the artist paints with resolute focus on the section before him. Like him, each artist works on his or her section—some use aerosol paint, others the brush—each fixed on the task at hand.
Painting a mural is like watching the colors of life come together through detailed strokes. Every day brings new colors into focus as a once lifeless, colorless wall undergoes a spectacular transformation. It’s as though each color represents a life, as though each color is oblivious to the interlacing elements that each shares in this world. Only when the work is finished is the larger picture seen, for the small part each color seemed to play was, in the end, rather a large one—merely part of a masterpiece.
Eureka’s Street Art Festival is not only an inspiration for life, but also a celebration of it. It is in this week of mural painting and artwork that Humboldt magnifies its citizens and community. “This festival is being organized by a handful of community members,” says Jennifer Catsos, a local artist and community organizer. “Other members are helping by sponsoring the festival, volunteering their time, creating the artwork, playing music, performing and more.”
This community of passionate enthusiasts wish to see the city fulfill its maximum potential, and they believe the Eureka Street Art Festival will “create intentional, accessible art that enlivens public spaces, stimulates community revitalization and attracts visitors,” says Catsos.
“Quite a bunch of planning goes into an event like this,” Catsos continues, “This is our first year hosting this festival, so it has taken a lot of work to get the idea off the ground. Just to get the art on the walls, we have had to coordinate with property owners and artists, and match them according to wall size and preference.”
Fortunately, Catsos has a great team. Claire Reynolds of the Black Faun Gallery, Michelle Cartledge of Humboldt Cider Company, Swan Asbury with the City of Eureka and Delo Freitas (a former city employee) are all working with the Eureka Visitor Center to bring this event to fruition.
It was the summer of 2017 when the Black Faun Arts Project commissioned murals by British artists DANK (Dan Kitchener) and Mr. Jago (Duncan Jago) that sparked the idea of turning the community’s appreciation of large-scale art into a festival.
“Crowds gathered every day during the mural painting to see the progress and speak with the artists. Since then, the two Opera Alley murals on G Street have become so regularly photographed for everything from commercial photo shoots to countless selfies, that they are quickly becoming iconic images of this Northwestern California port city,” Catsos says.
In addition to the murals, the city formalized a Strategic Arts Plan, being recognized as one of California’s 14 California Cultural Arts Districts in the state.
International, national and local artists have been selected for the event and are being paired with interested property owners to discuss the best style, theme and wall size for the artists’ projects. “We began the process by contacting property owners to find walls and surfaces to install public art throughout Old Town,” says Catsos.
Approximately 15 artists have been selected to participate in the Street Art Festival, expected to create public art ranging from murals to wheat paste installations throughout the week of the event. Internationally recognized artists include Cix, an urban graffiti artist, Dave Van Patten, an artist focused on illustration and comics and Xavi Penneton, who has created murals and installations across the world. National artists include Stock Schleuter, who began as a watercolor artist, and ELLE, a graffiti and street artist. Local artists include Anna Sofia Amezcua, Matt Beard, Blake Reagan and Rachel Schleuter.
Community artists will also participate, showing off talents from live-painting portraits, performing in the streets and playing music throughout Old Town.
The long-term goal is to recreate the festival as an annual event in order to faithfully produce public art in Eureka, which is why excess funds raised by this year’s festival will go toward preserving the existing public art throughout the city. •
Eureka Street Art Festival • August 11-18; street party, noon to 6pm Aug. 18