Paint the Town

Kenton Hoppas (pictured) and Bryan Gage work on a 150-foot mural on a wall of Sand City’s Public Works building on Sept. 22, getting a head start on the massive piece before the we. Art festival officially begins on Sept. 28. Seven murals total are being created.

Next week, a honeybee will land on a wall in Sand City. The bee will be roughly 17 feet wide, a mural to be painted by artist Hanif Panni. It’s one of seven to be painted by 13 artists during the we. Art festival from Sept. 28-Oct. 5.

It’s scaled down from what Sand City officials had first envisioned, with beer gardens and live music, before the pandemic shrank their plans. Muralists will still be working outdoors and the public is invited to watch as the artwork is completed.

On the city’s Public Works building, Bryan Gage of Pacific Grove and Kenton Hoppas of Monterey are collaborating, interspersing their work over more than 150 feet. “The final scene is a celebration of artists, a female figure holding a powerful paintbrush against a bright light,” Gage says. “It’s reminiscent of the French Revolution.”

The idea of pairing artists to work together is something Denver-based firm So-Gnar has done before. The city awarded the company a $15,000 contract to oversee we. Art, including making arrangements with property owners for walls, and to paint three murals (in addition to the seven to be created throughout the festival). The city is spending another $50,000 to pay artists and cover expenses.

“All of the murals are meant to be permanent,” City Manager Aaron Blair says. “That’s one of the pluses to a wall festival is it has a lasting impact; it’s not just a two-day event.”

Six Monterey County artists are participating, seven are from out of state.

One local artist, Kayhan Ghodsi, takes issue with Blair hiring an out-of-state firm to run the event and that So-Gnar recruited out-of-town artists; just two have studios in Sand City. Ghodsi is running for City Council on a platform of promoting local artists. “Sand City on a bad day has about two-dozen artists,” he says. “I am not against the mural festival. I think any reason for creating art is a good reason. Art is the only thing that can save us.”

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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