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Patriotic mural a dream- come-true for Crystal Downs
Manteca Mural Society volunteer Terri Pasquini helps sketch the basic design layout of the “Our Family City” mural going up on the north wall of the Crystal Downs State Farm Insurance building across the street from the FESM Hall on North Main Street. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Crystal Downs couldn’t be happier with the mural that will grace the north side of her State Farm Insurance building at 259 North Main Street.

“It’s a true picture of the community. I’m just thrilled,” she said of the Art Mortimer-designed patriotic wall-to-wall painting complete with red, white and blue gigantic stars and stripes and his version of the iconic American Gothic painting by Grant Wood.

This latest “community mural in a weekend” project of the Manteca Mural Society is aptly titled “Our Family City,” Manteca’s moniker. It celebrates the family and the city’s cultural diversity.

“It’s a dream of mine to have a mural in my building,” said Downs, a former IBM engineer who segued her career into the insurance business in 1993.

Her State Farm Insurance, whose client base in Manteca goes back to the 1960s, was formerly located in the building next to the Wells Fargo Bank on Center Street until a few years ago when she purchased the building that used to be the Bill’s Mower & Saw which she recently renovated. State Farm occupies the north side of the building; the other half is another business called The Framery.

Having a community mural accentuating the building is what she has always wanted since the purchased the property, Downs said Tuesday as she watched Mortimer and four volunteers from the Manteca Mural Society lay out the highlights of the wall painting that will be completed by volunteer members of the community this weekend during the annual Pumpkin Fair.
Just as her agency has been a reflection of the community since the 1960s, her building with the new mural dressing will likewise reflect The Family City, she said.

“It’s really exciting,” Downs said.

As part of the Pumpkin Fair celebration, Downs will throw open the doors of her State Farm Insurance for a two-day open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Crystal has been very, very supportive every step of the way,” Gayl Wilson of the Manteca Mural Society said of this latest community mural project.

“Our Family City” is the society’s sixth community mural project, and one of about a dozen murals that already grace the city’s downtown district. This year’s community mural is the second project designed by Mortimer who also did “Our Bountiful Valley” that was painted in 2007 in the 100 block of Sycamore Avenue.

A bit of trivia about “Our Family City” mural: it is the first mural outside the six-block core area of Manteca’s downtown district.

Unlike the other murals in downtown Manteca which were painted entirely by professional artists, the community murals like “Our Family City” are done by volunteers who get the job done during the two-day Pumpkin Fair celebration.

The mural society is still looking for volunteers to help with the mural project this weekend. Anyone interested in becoming a part of this project and would like to help can contact the society by sending an e-mail to or by calling Gayl Wilson at 483-8187.