Wide Open Walls celebrates public art in a big way, and nowhere is it bigger than at Sacramento State, where artists have spelled out S-A-C-R-A-M-E-N-T-O in letters 15 feet tall.

It served as the city’s signature mural for the 2018 Wide Open Walls festival – named the Sacramento Mural at Sac State – and an anticipated destination backdrop for selfies and other could-become-iconic photographs.

“This mural will be a point of pride for Sacramento State for years to come,” says University President Robert S. Nelsen.

Mural celebrationThe Sacramento Mural at Sac State celebration includes many of the artists and President Robert S. Nelsen. The artwork is the anchor piece for the 2018 Wide Open Walls, Sacramento's celebration of public art. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone) | More photos

Twelve well-known artists, mostly locals with fine art and street art credentials, on Thursday, Aug. 9, began painting their visions in the shape of letters spelling the city's name on the west side of Shasta Hall, home to Sac State’s University and Playwright’s theaters.

The mural was virtually complete in time for a celebration on Aug. 18. The festival continued through Aug. 19.

Sac State, as home for Sacramento’s mural, hosted the Wide Open Walls kickoff news conference on Aug. 9 near Shasta Hall. Among the dignitaries who attended were President Nelsen, Congresswoman Doris Matsui, and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, along with Mike Testa, CEO and president of Visit Sacramento, and Sheree Meyer, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. (See our video and photo album from the news conference.)

“Public art is there, stares you in the face. You have to see it. And all of a sudden, a conversation develops in meaningful ways,” Matsui said to the nearly 100 people gathered for the event.

Sac State’s Paint Shop crew prepped and painted the wall dark charcoal, creating a 4,000-square-foot canvas for the giant postcard-like mural.

These artists were picked to tell any story they wanted with their chosen letter:

S – SV Williams

A – Phillip Altstatt

C – John Horton

R – Raphael Delgado

A – Molly Devlin

M – Micah Crandall-Bear

E – Lopan and Ernie Fresh

N – Norm Ayles

T – Ursula X. Young

O – Jose Di Gregorio

Their bold and colorful creations will be completed by the team’s 12th member, Jeremy Stanger, who was to paint 3-D drop shadows on each letter.

“I feel that public art is the personality of a city,” says Delgado, lead artist and project manager for the Sacramento State mural. “There’s something endearing about art that’s hyperlocal, quirky and fun.”

David Sobon, owner of DSA Events, launched the Sacramento Mural Festival in 2016, inviting artists to transform walls and neighborhoods throughout Sacramento. The event was recast as Wide Open Walls the following year.

The 2018 festival brought together more than 40 artists – local, national, and international – to provide additional color and excitement to the city’s landscape.

In addition to the campus mural, Sac State had a presence downtown during the festival. Peter Williams, assistant professor of new media art, and seven students in his Beginning Electronic Art class created side-by-side projected electronic murals for Downtown Commons, also known as DOCO, near Golden 1 Center. (See video above.)

Williams’ piece, called Home in Sacramento, is an interactive animation. The students’ art project is Leave Your Mark, a projection with digital animation and panoramic photography. The student-artists are Rebecca-Lyn Standley, AJ Adams, Camille Grunder, Derrick Armbrust, Jacob Barrios, John Klaiber and Shara Poole.

“We are Sacramento’s university,” Nelsen says, “and it is exciting to see this collaboration come to fruition through Wide Open Walls. We at Sacramento State are proud to be an integral part of the region, and we hope the mural will bring many more Sacramentans to our campus to admire the artwork.” – Dixie Reid

Related media:

"Wide Open Walls 'extravaganza' kicks off," The Sacramento Bee

"Wide Open Walls Festival brings art to Sacramento walls," KCRA Channel 3