Creative arts agency OnlyUp and Livermore's Commission for the Arts teamed up for the second year in a row to bring new and vibrant public art displays to the city's walls and buildings.
Livermore Mural Fest is an event launched in 2020 that brings artists from all over the Bay Area together to share their work and grow the local artist community.
"It's a cool community project to be able to get artists involved locally, to bring some talent regionally, to give an opportunity for some artists here who might not be quite ready to jump on a big wall to work alongside some artists who maybe are," said artist and OnlyUp founder Trent Thompson, adding that he wants to build the art scene in the area and inspire local youth and other people to make art.
With painting beginning on Aug. 21, four brand-new murals were installed by a diverse group of contracted artists with a fifth planned for the old Dom's Outdoor Outfitters building -- which will soon be the new home of Purpose-Built Trade Co. -- making for a combined total of 12 murals downtown, which also includes last year's works.
Tours of all the completed murals were initially planned for Aug. 28 but were pushed to this Saturday (Sept. 11) due to the combination of extreme heat and poor air quality, according to the organizers.
"We live in a time and space where more people are becoming aware of our interconnectedness," said artist and organizer Arthur Barinque, who was also previously a member of the Livermore Commission for the Arts.
"The fact that there are now more than a dozen murals in downtown Livermore is a sign of the times. We are ready to celebrate arts, culture, our collective history and our connectedness now more than ever. It is really humbling to be a part of," he added.
Aside from brightening up the streets of Livermore with colorful art, the Mural Fest initiative also has a philanthropic component, with all proceeds from tour ticket sales being directed to Livermore Valley Craft Beer Foundation to support Goodness Village, a new sustainable "tiny home" community located in Livermore that provides affordable and permanent housing options for local people experiencing chronic homelessness.
OnlyUp's director of operations and engagement and fellow artist, Marielle Evans, told the Weekly that money from their fundraising initiatives will go toward developing new mini murals throughout Goodness Village to help beautify the campus and offer a "colorful, welcoming home environment." Some of the funds will also go toward creating an art and maker program for residents at Goodness Village.
"One of their big dreams is to create a makerspace for the residents there and to allow them to potentially do micro-enterprise through maker and trade and allow them to have the dignity of entrepreneurship and artistry and also to potentially create an income stream for both the village and for the residents by offering maker markets and that kind of thing," Evans said.
Helping housing-oriented nonprofits is a part of the fabric of OnlyUp. Evans said that in the past, they've supported CityServe of the Tri-Valley, Sunflower Hill and Tri-Valley Haven, among other local organizations.
Thompson created the series "Pictures 4 People" in 2018 that featured paintings of the faces of members of the unhoused community. By auctioning off the artwork he created, Thompson raised nearly $8,000 for local charities. In 2019, Thompson was named the Weekly's Tri-Valley Hero for Arts & Culture for his "Pictures 4 People" initiative.
"Small businesses and for-profits can have a role in solving the problem," Evans said. "We may not be able to house people but we can write about it, sing about it, talk about it, paint about it and make it so that other people look because so often, homeless individuals are unseen," she added.
In addition to the downtown murals, OnlyUp is installing four mini murals at The Well at Sunset development -- formerly Sunset Plaza -- located at the corner of Concannon Boulevard and Holmes Street. Evans said that although businesses are not open there yet, the developers have said that the community is welcome to visit the plaza to view the artwork.
"We are so thankful that Livermore is a place that really supports these innovative art installations and frankly, innovative small business," Evans said.
Organizers said that this year's murals were sponsored by the city of Livermore Commission for the Arts, Purpose-Built Trade Co., Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, Livermore Shakespeare Festival/SPARC Studio, Vaughn's Barbershop, The Well at Sunset, Giselle De Sousa Real Estate, Pennyweight Brewery, Wente Vineyards, Nicole Sweeney Real Estate, the Real Estate Alliance Livermore and Mony Nop Real Estate.
More information about Mural Fest and the mural tours is available here.