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Manteca High Mural Museum keeps culture alive on campus

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Manteca High Mural Museum keeps culture alive on campus

The female subject’s green eyes in this mural appear to be the reflection of the color green used to paint the seating area in front of it.


POSTED February 18, 2012 1:38 a.m.

Many of the artists are gone, but their works linger on for others to admire, enjoy and gain some inspiration.

This unique collection and outdoor “mural museum” is the legacy of Kirt Giovannoni, Manteca High’s former art teacher who retired last year from teaching, and the students he taught in his art classes. A plaque sandwiched between two of the student murals tells a brief background of the project.

The inscription states that the mural project “was envisioned and set in motion in 1996 to revitalize the educational environment for students, teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and the public, and to be a visible substitute icon for destructive graffiti.”

According to information on the plaque, the school’s art students have completed 221 murals as of January 2011.

The inscription further reads: “The expected outcome of the mural project is for all to appreciate famous masterpieces and contemporary artworks throughout history.”

Some of these masters chosen by the students are Salvador Dali, De Lempicka, Botticelli, the photographic artist Man Ray, American artist Wayne Thibeaud, American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, and the cubist artist Picasso, among many others.

While the project was retired after Giovannoni retired from teaching at the end of last school year, a patriotic mural was officially added to the collection last Dec. 8. The mural, which hangs in the back wall of the Mulvihill Performing Arts Theatre, was officially dedicated during a brief observance of that “day of infamy” in World War II with the Manteca High JROTC students and instructors, along with invited local veterans that included soldiers from that war, attending the brief noontime ceremonies.

The newest mural is titled, “These Colors Won’t Run. Remember Pearl Harbor. December 7, 1941.” It shares the back wall of the theatre with another patriotic mural commemorating the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

While the “mural museum” on campus is not officially listed as a tourist attraction, Principal Frank Gonzales said anybody can come and view the al fresco exhibit. All they need to do is contact the school administration to make arrangements and “we’ll take them on a tour.”

He describes the students’ art works as a “display of their thoughts and their feelings” and that the outdoor exhibit has become part of the school’s “culture.”

Many of the students are also appreciative of the murals and what they represent.

“(They are) very interesting. They tell what people are trying to express, their feelings, and what they see in this world,” said senior Francisco Palafox.

“It shows a lot of talent in people. They are all very nice,” said Bianca Corona.

Moriah Saldana, a sophomore, echoed her schoolmates’ sentiments about the murals.

“That’s what our school represents. That’s what it’s known for,” she said.

Officially called the Manteca High School Mural Museum, the project has not only earned Giovanni many accolades and awards both on the school district and state levels but it has also put the school on the map. It has been featured not just in the Manteca Bulletin, many times, but also in The Modesto Bee, the Stockton Record, Tri-Valley Herald, Channel 10 News, KVIE Arts Alive, the American Profile, and Sacramento & Company.

— Rose Albano Risso
city editor

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