Comstock's magazine 0818 - August 2018 - Page 80

al street art festival created to brighten up the city’s neighborhoods with a creative vitality that makes both locals and tourists see Sacramento in a new light. This year’s festival, from Aug. 9–19, will bring 30 art- ists from the city and beyond to this event, which includes gallery openings, art tours, fundraisers and, of course, the chance for spectators to watch artists work on a big scale. David Sobon, the founder of Wide Open Walls mural festival. “There’s a sense of pride everybody feels when they look at these fantastic murals,” says David Sobon, the festi- val’s founder and producer. “We’ve made downtown Sacramento an outdoor art gal- lery that rivals the Mission District in San Francisco.” Sobon worked with several PBIDs, including The River District, Midtown Business Association, Power Inn Alliance, Downtown Sacramento Partnership and others. “WOW epitomizes the concept of placemaking by generating buzz and 80 | August 2018 encouraging the culture that makes us uniquely Sacramento,” says Emilie Cam- eron, public affairs and communications director for DSP, which will be supporting the festival again this year with a new mu- ral inspired by six-word stories submitted during State of Downtown in January. In addition to some districts putting up banners and promoting the event on social media, Sobon says the districts all contrib- uted to help raise the $400,000 needed for last year’s festival. This year, the bud- get has increased to over $500,000 to include a live concert block party and in- creased stipends to the artists. “Wide Open Walls is the exact defini- tion of a public-private partnership,” So- bon says. “Without collaboration there’s no way this little nonprofit can do it all by itself.” This year, street-art entrepreneur Shepard Fairey will be adapting Jim Mar- shall’s classic photo of Johnny Cash for a mural on the Marriott’s Residence Inn downtown, a tribute to the 50th anniver- sary of the country icon’s Folsom Prison concert. The image might not spike the number of hotel guests, but guests who do come won’t forget it when they see it, says Doug Warren, regional director of opera- tions for Welcome Group, which oversees five Marriott-branded hotels in California. “Once you leave, you go back to your town and talk about this mural,” Warren says. “The return on investment is social capital.” When Sobon was first pitching the WOW idea, Mike Testa, head of the Visit Sacramento tourism agency, was cautious not to get too excited because he says most pitches he receives never come to fruition. But everything changed after last year’s event. Testa’s office building now features a mural painted by Sacramento artist Maren Conrad, inspired by “Lady Bird”, the 2017 Oscar-nominated film set in Sacramento. “I had no idea of the impact until I saw those murals go up in the first festival,” says Testa, whose organization is return- ECONOMIC GROWTH