By Sonia Pagan
Sacramento is unveiling new public artwork this summer, featuring everything from bright murals to fresh tree groves. The nonprofit Sacramento Tree Foundation is leading one project that’s dubbed ‘the Hanami Line’ – a mission to plant groves of cherry blossom trees at Robert T. Matsui Park.
“A community member came back from Japan and approached our former director [and] pitched the idea,” recalled Laura Garcia, the development director at the Sacramento Tree Foundation. She added that ‘the Hanami Line’ is being driven by pure passion from those involved in its planting, as well as the community, which helped raise the funds for the project.
According to Garcia, the cherry blossoms will be an acknowledgement of the Japanese-American community that lives in this area. In choosing the project’s destination, the space around Matsui was always viewed as a prime location and “well-trafficked park.”
“I think in its essence it’s a community building space,” Garcia reflected, “in an area that doesn’t have a lot of green space. This will be a beautiful amenity.”
The name ‘the Hanami Line’ is based on the Japanese experience for flower viewing, where people can pause a moment and take everything in. This project will officially begin in early July and is set to be finished by next spring. It’s being funded by the City of Sacramento’s Office of Arts and Culture department.
Another effort underway to elevate Sacramento involves murals funded by the California Department of Transportation. One will be located along 21st Street under Highway 99, in a project that is being led by the Franklin Neighborhood Development Corporation, while the other will be along 2nd Avenue, a creation by an array of artists from Sol Collective, a local Sacramento art gallery.
Kendra Reed, the deputy director of the Franklin Neighborhood Development Corporation, said that the goal of her group’s mural is to create something beautiful for 21st Avenue and also bolster an art walk that the whole community can enjoy.
“Creating a connection to both neighborhoods [South Oak Park and North City Farms] is another goal we hope to achieve with this project,” Reed pointed out. “One of the criteria for our project is to have extensive community outreach prior to final design so the art reflects our local neighborhoods.”
Reed also notes that deadlines for when the mural production will start, and finish, are subject to change as some dates have already had to be shifted. An upcoming “community mural paint day” has yet to be determined as well.
The lead artist on the 21st Avenue mural project is Jaya King, who created its design based on feedback after numerous community events. King explained that the lead coordinator, Uli Smith, is her “official co-pilot” and they will have a team made up of eight other assistant artists and volunteers once they get started.
“The mural is titled ‘21st Tapestry,’ and it represents an embroidered ‘story cloth’ gateway between the North City Farms and South Oak Park neighborhoods,” King observed, “specifically engaging children’s imaginations using cultural imagery and symbolism.”
The project officially began in the fall of last year with discussions of concept designs, community engagement and other behind-the-scene activities. King confirmed the team will start work on the mural “once a few more details are finalized.”
More summertime artwork on the way includes a project along the Del Rio Trail that will feature offerings from over 20 artists, along with another mural at Sutter’s Landing Regional Park and a possible sculpture to be displayed near the Museum of Science and Curiosity.