Sacramento’s Wide Open Walls festival celebrated its third year this month, transforming capital city walls into colorful, large-scale murals. The outdoor project encompassed works by more than 30 artists, ranging from local talent to renowned Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairy (who painted the iconic HOPE portrait of Barack Obama) and Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan’s first female graffiti artist.
Combining international renowned artists and local up-and-comers elevated the awareness for the murals and put Sacramento in the spotlight during the festival, which also included movie screenings and live music (and there’s even more music to come for 2019, says Wide Open Walls founder David Sobon.)
“Our mission is ‘art for all,’” Sobon says, “and the idea of creating a gallery outdoors where you can see beautiful art is our goal—and we want to continue that.”
Although the festival ended on August 19, you can still see the artwork adorning buildings throughout the city. Two of the best options for touring the murals are by bike or on two feet, either on a self-guided tour (find the map here) or with a group. Sacramento Cycling Tours guides riders to each mural while providing info about the artists, and Sac Tour Company offers running, walking, and bike tours with an accompanying history lesson about street art in Sacramento.
Although most of the 2018 murals can be found in Midtown and Downtown Sacramento, there are multiple art works painted in diverse neighborhoods, such as Oak Park. Sobon says he and his team were very thoughtful in pairing the artists’ style with the location.
“This year we spent a lot more time curating and making sure we were putting the right artists in the right neighborhoods,” he says. For instance, Sobon chose Jaya King, who grew up and went to school in Oak Park, to paint a proud black woman wearing an Oak Park t-shirt on the side of the Guild Theatre. “We wanted to celebrate the neighborhoods, and I think that was the perfect example.”