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Big job well done by small band of volunteers
Muralist Art Mortimer flashes a big smile as he and a crew of volunteers wrap up their work on the latest “community mural in a weekend” project of the Manteca Mural Society. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/ The Bulletin
The latest project of the Manteca Mural Society is now another significant footnote in Manteca’s history.

Its significance is not just in the meaningful title – “Our Family City” which happens to be the moniker of this Crossroads of California town of 60,000-plus proud residents. It’s positive proof of what a small band of dedicated workers can accomplish in just a matter of two days – even less than that considering the dozen-or-so paintbrush-wielding artists and art lovers worked only from 8 in the morning to about 4 in the afternoon during the two-day annual celebration of the Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair in downtown Manteca.

The Manteca Mural Society members and community volunteers finished the Art Mortimer-designed “Our Family City” painting on target, if not earlier, Sunday around 3 o’clock. The weekend project was capped off with the traditional dedication ceremony attended by Mayor Willie Weatherford and council members Vince Hernandez and Steve DeBrum, and the presentation of the certificate of appreciation to muralist Mortimer. “Our Family City” is his encore mural project in Manteca. He also designed “Our Bountiful Valley,” another community mural located on Sycamore Street across from the old City Hall.

True to its theme, “Our Family City” portrays a cross section of Manteca’s rich cultural and ethnic diversity, which is exactly what Mortimer wanted to accomplish. He said he wanted his design to echo the elements that the Mural Society wanted him to include in the design.

“I came up with some basic ideas, and the society suggested and said, ‘we’d like to see this and that;’ and they wanted to see some occupations represented. I picked and chose from what they suggested, those that would work visually,’ Mortimer said.

The result is a mural that Crystal Downs, the owner of the State Farm Insurance building which now sports “Our Family City” mural on its north wall, described as “fabulous.” The painting, she said, is a “true picture of the community.”

Here’s a bit of information to those who are contemplating on getting involved in future “community mural in a weekend” projects. One does not have to be an artist or a painter to be a part of this effort. They also need extra hands to help supply food and drinks to the volunteers and other tasks that get the job done. For more information about the Mural Society and its other projects, visit their web site at