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Downtown murals reflect Manteca history, culture

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Downtown murals reflect Manteca history, culture

A pedestrian walks by The Crossroads mural.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED August 13, 2009 2:29 a.m.
Manteca’s murals are designed to give visitors, newcomers and longtime residents alike an insight into the community’s culture, history, and economy.

The Manteca Mural Society has finished nine of 30 planned murals. The goal is to generate community pride by creating public art that doubles as a tourist attraction for Manteca. To visit Manteca’s murals, take Highway 99 to the West Yosemite Avenue exit. Travel a mile to the east where the four lanes narrow down to a two-lane street.

This will take you to the 200 block of East Yosemite Avenue where you can start an easy walking tour of the downtown district.

Sierra’s Crown
The first mural on your tour is part of the Veterans Plaza in front of the Legion Hall in the 200 block of West Yosemite Avenue. Ripon artist Don Petersen’s original transparent watercolor of Half Dome is blended with images of Yosemite Valley and Merced River.

The front of the Legion Hall in the 200 block of East Yosemite is a compilation of details such as a rainbow arching above the granite cap, as well as trout in the Merced River. The mural is particularly dramatic just after sunset where ground lighting creates the feel of nightfall coming to Yosemite Valley.

The mural is actually a reproduction of his original 19- by 31-inch painting. It was projected onto aluminum panels to create the mural.

The plaza design utilizes extensive rock and granite to create a river-bed feel that flows into the mural. There are ample natural stone resting spots that offer vantage points to admire the mural.

The mural theme reflects Manteca’s role for over 100 years as the valley gateway to Yosemite National Park’s northern entrance via Highway 120.

As you walk west, you can also duck into the Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. & Brickyard Oven Restaurant to glimpse at impressive second floor murals gracing the walls of the former El Rey Theatre.

Crossroads

The mural gracing the Main Street wall of Century Furniture located at Yosemite and Main is Manteca’s largest. It covers 4,000 square feet and was created by Dave Gordon.

“Crossroads” depicts what Manteca’s business district looked like in 1917. That is when the community was incorporated as a city. It offers the same vantage point you would see standing across the street next to the Bank of America parking lot, but 87 years later.

There is, of course, artistic license but it is a fairly reasonable reflection of images gathered from old photos.

Some of the more fanciful touches are the mural within the mural and the design that skillfully incorporates Century Furniture’s sign that juts out over the sidewalk into the main design of the mural.

Pitching Pumpkins
Head north a half block up Main Street from the “Crossroads” creation to the third mural.

It pays homage to Manteca’s most famous crop Ñ pumpkins. Seventy percent of California’s jack-o’-lantern pumpkins are grown in the Manteca countryside.

“Pitching Pumpkins” was the society’s first Mural in a Weekend project that relied on 60 volunteers to paint the mural.

It is a 10- by 40-foot mural depicting how the pumpkins have always been harvested - cut from the vine and pitched upward to the waiting arms of a man on a wagon that is pulled by a tractor.

The Cruise
Across Main Street on the Accent Carpets’ wall is the city’s longest mural depicting Yosemite Avenue in the mid-1960s when cruising was king.

Rotary Mural
From the “Pitching Pumpkins” mural, head west through the parking lot and you will reach the “Rotary Mural” and a new mini-plaza.

Take a minute to rest on one of the benches and enjoy the water fountain and garden. That way you can appreciate the detail of artist Don Gray’s salute to the worldwide service efforts of Rotary International.

San Francisco
The next mural is reached by heading south on Maple Avenue. Stay on the east side of the street when you reach Yosemite Avenue. Look upward to the west and you’ll see Ron Pecchenino’s “San Francisco” mural.

The 10-by-20-foot mural is on the second story wall of C-4 Records in the 200 block of West Yosemite.

Pecchenino developed a design that brings in San Francisco’s most familiar landmarks - the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Chinatown and the Transamerica Pyramid building. The San Francisco landmarks blend seamless into the skyline of the 100 and 200 blocks of West Yosemite.

The theme was selected based on Manteca’s geographic location that has for years made it the turning point of Highway 99 for travelers wanting to reach San Francisco.

Cow-munity Mural
The society’s second Mural in a Weekend project is a 96- by 12-foot salute to Manteca’s dairy industry

It is on a wall in the 200 block of West Yosemite Avenue facing the Athens Greek Burgers parking lot.

Bounty of the Valley
From the Cow-munity Mural walk north down nearby Sycamore Avenue to the alley where you’ll find another mural-in-a-day project dubbed “The Bounty of the Valley.”

Free-for-All
Double-back to Yosemite Avenue and then head east a block to Maple Avenue and turn right. There on your left you’ll find the whimsical “Free for All” depicting children playing in a hay barn that actually still stands in the rural Manteca countryside.
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