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Manteca Highs mural man part of Hall of Fame
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Manteca High art teacher Kirt Giovannoni, who was recently selected to the Manteca Hall of Fame, stands next to the “Nighthawk” mural, which is one of over 200 on campus. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT


• WHAT: Manteca Hall of Fame dinner & induction
• WHEN: Saturday, May 1
• WHERE: Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane
• TICKETS: $40
• MORE INFO: Contact the Boys & Girls Club at 239-KIDS

Kirt Giovannoni has dedicated his life to art.

A reflection of his dedication can be found throughout Manteca High. The campus features over 200 murals – measuring about 7-by 8- feet – ranging from the works of the Masters to the more contemporary artists.

From Picasso, Van Gough, and Renoir, to Norman Rockwell and comic book illustrator Jack Kirby, the murals are the works of Giovannoni’s Advance Art students.

In turn, he helped convert the drab sometimes graffiti-riddled walls of an aging campus – parts of the school dates back to 1923 – to that of the Manteca Mural Museum.

Giovannoni, for his efforts, will receive further recognition on Saturday, May 1.

The MHS instructor – he’ll be honored for his work in the arts – will join the likes of Sammy Davis (special recognition), Richard Durham Sr. (education), Janet Dyk (agriculture), Evelyn Prouty (community service), Susie Beeler (at large), Dr. Mel Larson (health care) and Gail Perry (business) in the 2010 Manteca Hall of Fame induction class.

The induction ceremony and dinner will take place at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manteca at 545 Alameda St. or by calling 239-KIDS.

According to Giovannoni, the mural projects have been a part of the campus for over 15 years.

“Many of my students never had an opportunity to tour a gallery or travel outside of their hometown,” he said. “Yet the Manteca Mural Museum has opened a door for these students to explore art and history and participate in it.

“Not only has it refined the students’ art skills but also taught an ‘on-the-job’ work ethic.”

The murals have attracted visitors from Ireland, Belgium and Canada.

The student-generated art projects have received plenty of attention. The MHS murals were featured in the News 10 segment, “What’s Cool at School,” KVIE PBS “Arts Alive,” the syndicated magazine “American Profile,” and the newly released book “American Profile’s Hometown Heroes.”

Giovannoni – or Mr. G as he’s known to his students – was a guest on the News 10 morning show ‘Sacramento & Company’ and honored by My58 “California Lottery as the Hero in Education.”

He’s thankful for the support by the City of Manteca, with members of the community donating cash, paint and supplies for the murals.

Some of his students have gone on to help out with the mural projects around downtown.

Giovannoni is a 1974 graduate of Oakdale High. He attended Modesto Junior College and went on from there to play football at UC Davis under legendary coach Jim Sochor, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

He was a master teacher for California State University, Stanislaus’ Teaching Credential Program.

Giovannoni has been at MHS for 31 years. For awhile, he was able to mix his two passions, art and sports, serving as coach on the Buffalo football and track and field programs.

These days, however, Giovannoni enjoys restoring his classic cars, house boating and skiing. He was recently named art coordinator for the Manteca Unified School District.

His principal, Doug McCreath, was among those who nominated him for the Manteca Hall of Fame.

“I was elated and surprised,” Giovannoni said. “I’m overwhelmed to be recognized for my work and honored to be elected into the Hall of Fame.”

Meanwhile, the murals have continued to flourish around campus.

“These are a little different,” said Giovannoni. “My students are currently doing murals of the 20 sports offered at MHS in the area outside of Winter Gymnasium and the small gym.”

Another mural along the history classes will feature an American eagle on the U.S. flag.

Giovannoni noted that the first murals were an experiment to beautify the school.

“If it didn’t work out, they would’ve been painted right over,” he said.