One of the hats I wear is as the Area Representative for an awesome Student Exchange Organization, and one of my responsibilities is... taa-daa... taking the students out for activities around town. I know, right? For all of those out of town friends who never visit me, don't worry, I can practice my "Where would take an out of towner?" answer on these unsuspecting kids while I wait for you to come see me.
Anyway, in late may I had a few students who couldn't make it to our Art Hop walk, so I wanted to take them out for something really special and memorable that would be so OMGFRESNO that it would blow their international minds.
So, uh, duh, we went on a Mural Walk through Downtown Fresno's Mural District. Did you even know that we have a mural district? I was vaguely aware that yeah, there were a lot of murals, but I didn't know it was an actual thing until this spring.
We started at Iron Bird Cafe with some cold juice blends and took off, drinks in hand, to enjoy some of Fresno's finest public art, set against the backdrop of the businesses, studios and living spaces. Pioneered by artist and developer Reza Assemi, this part of the city has become a vibrant hub of artistic activity.
There is a map that shows where most of the murals are, so armed with that, a few pages printed about some of the artists that contributed to the pieces and an sense of adventure (hey, it's late May and we're walking in the afternoon, that is brave!) we took off. We didn't have to go too far for our first pieces, The Iron Bird Lofts are already known for their public art.
We headed down Broadway, Checked out the Econo Inn, Headed over to H Street to see the H Street Lofts and The Vagabond Lofts, Checked out the Broadway lofts, and went all the way to Tulare, where we fell completely in love with Broadway Studios (pictured) and KJWL's larger than larger than life Sinatra. (We had one of the host-dads along with us and I think this was his favorite of all!) Against the wall of the Cornerstone Church is a mural of sheet music for Amazing Grace.
We made out way back up Fulton and saw a lot of murals that aren't on this map yet, including some pretty cool alleyways. This isn't a tour you can't really enjoy by car, but would be perfect on bike. If you do decide to go and walk the Mural District allot a good couple of hours to really let yourself enjoy the pieces and have a leisurely stroll around. Probably not a good idea to do in 108° heat, either, so plan accordingly before you get out there and check it out.
(Photo is of exchange students Liza (Palestine) and Ploy (Thailand) with yours truly in front of the mural on Broadway Studios in the alleyway sandwiched between them and KJWL. I'm looking for host families for the 2010-2011 school year, let me know if you're interested!)