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Wide Open Walls mural festival hopes to bring 'unity during a tough time' to Sacramento

Although things will be different this year, the festival hopes its most diverse artist line-up will help bring healing, unity and hope to the community.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — The popular Wide Open Walls mural festival is now underway in Sacramento

The 11-day public art celebration started back in 2016 with 15 murals but has since grown into a huge attraction.

This year, when many events have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the free open-air art show is still on. “It’s now more important than ever to express love and unity through art,” local muralist Joseph Delgado said.

Over the course of four years, approximately 150 murals have been painted during the Wide Open Walls Festival. This year, 15 local and Northern California artists hope to add to Sacramento’s permanent mural collection. 

RELATED: Before & after | Wide Open Walls murals

Although things will be different this year, the festival is hopeful that its most diverse artist line-up will help bring healing, unity and hope to the community. “I think we really needed art," said Delgado. "We couldn’t sit this one out.".

Raphael Delgado, a Wide Open Walls board member and one of the local artists featured this year, believes the unique and visually stunning artwork will help bring positive energy to Sacramento during a time of civil unrest. His 50 foot mural, displayed on Capitol Mall and 6th Street, shows a mother holding her child tightly. 

“I wanted to show this loving motherly embrace as you look up and kind of portray this great energy,” Delgado said. 

It took Delgado about 14 days to finish the mural, longer than expected due to the weather conditions. “It was the smoke and the heat so there’s a lot of effort and energy and love that went into this thing,” he explained.

According to Delgado, the hard work was all worth it. He and the other 14 artists were devoted to spreading a positive message of hope. “Mostly to remind everyone about the issues we faced this year and how we overcame them,” he said.

The diverse murals are displayed in Midtown, Downtown and on Del Paso Boulevard. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic eliminated all the social gatherings surrounding the festival, like the concert on Capitol Mall that drew more than 4,000 visitors, the 2019 street party and the pop-up gallery at Downtown Commons in 2018. However, you can still admire the artwork through self-guided tours.

Wide Open Walls runs through Sunday, September 20 and it’s worth taking a walk around your neighborhood to catch a glimpse of a mural near you.

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