If you want to get a sense for Manteca and its history, economy, place in the world and social fabric all you have to do is view the art on the walls.
The Manteca Mural project — with 25 murals and counting — is an open book into Manteca.
They also attract a growing number of visitors that appreciate such works of public art.
The Manteca Mural Society’s endeavors are chronicled in Kevin Bruce’s book “Large Art in Small Places: Discovering the California Murals Towns.” The Ten Speed Press publication is seven years old and therefore doesn’t reference some of the more striking murals such as “Manteca Snow” and the ambitious five-mural salute to Manteca veterans on the Bedquarters wall at Manteca’s heart at Yosemite Avenue and Main Street. That five-mural project will have cost $125,000 when it is finally completed. The society’s next mural honoring Korean War veterans will be completed and dedicated in May.
Other mural cities outlined in the book include the likes of Big Bear Lake, Twenty-nine Palms, Bishop, Lompoc, Lemore, Porterville, Chico, Eureka, and Crescent City among others.
The Manteca Mural Society was launched in 2002 after Tom and Gayl Wilson returned from a vacation that took them to Chemainus, British Columbia, where they saw numerous murals.
Tom Wilson, who was involved in the Vision 2020 Task Force consisting of 26 citizens in 1998 that cobbled together a vision for the City of Manteca to pursue in 1998 for downtown and community development over the next 22 years, saw the murals as a way to create a focal point for downtown.
The first mural “1918” graces the eastern facing wall of Century Furniture at Main Street and Yosemite Avenue. It reflects the same street scene a viewer sitting on a bench across the street would have seen from that spot in 1918. It even has a whimsical touch of a mural within a mural.
The mural society’s goal is to use the visual arts as a force to build community pride, to revitalize and enhance the Manteca economy, to promote tourism and build a cultural bridge between the past, present and the future.
The society also sees their endeavor as a way to beautify the city.
There are currently 200 members. Annual dues for students is $5, for individuals $15, for families $25, for a community service organization and $75, and for a business $100. There are also higher levels of membership available.
For details, go to www.Mantecamurals.com or you can send tax-deductible checks to help pay for the Korean War mural the Manteca Mural Society, P.O. Box 1666, Manteca CA 95336.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org.