Watch a video interview with our mural artists!
Vibrant and engaging public art can transform listless or ho-hum community spaces into thriving public destinations. Public art marks a respect for the humanity and individuality of its community members by offering something beautiful or thought provoking that has a non-commercial purpose.
The primary factor that enabled Redwood City to successfully launch the “Commercial Way” mural alley project was the coalition of support for the arts already established in Redwood City. This coalition of support was built up over many years through city/public/private collaboration on other city enrichment projects including public concerts, art fairs and a utility box art program.
Redwood City increased the charm and desirability of their “walkable” downtown so that people from cities further away would spend more time (and money) enjoying the downtown environment. The improved downtown attracted new, high-end businesses. Their beautification efforts had paid off, and the downtown was thriving.
The idea for a Commercial Way Alley mural project was brainstormed by the Civic Cultural Commission and arts advocate, Jason Newblanc, to solve a challenge inherent in the city layout. The city is dissected by Caltrain train tracks, which creates a jog in Broadway, the main street downtown. The train runs along a parking lot and a plain alley of the backsides of the business along Broadway, the street that runs through the heart of the downtown. For many downtown patrons, this alley is a point of entry into the city. For people approaching Redwood City by train, this alley becomes part of the few impressions of the downtown they see.
The first building to be painted along Commercial Alley (Crouching Tiger Restaurant) was selected because it was the largest, and also because the business owner was open to the idea of having a mural on the exterior wall of their building. The first artist was chosen through recommendations because she had significant experience specifically painting murals. Working with an established mural artist insured more predictable results. The first mural was completed in February, 2015. The interest from the community on this project helped gather momentum for the next three murals in the alley, completed in phases the same year. The enthusiasm from the business owners along Commercial Way, and their interest in having murals also helped moved additional mural projects for Commercial Way forward.