Sand City’s we.Mural Festival to end in ‘art battle’

SAND CITY – For the fourth year, Sand City has played host to mural artists who leave their mark in a big way around the tiny city on the Monterey Peninsula, and this year its final strokes will end in a friendly art battle.

“There is a great deal of excitement on the streets in Sand City this week as new walls are coming to life with images and color,” said Vibeke Norgaard, Sand City city manager, in an email. “The new we.Mural curators, Cameron and Crystal Moberg of Talking Walls have pulled together a world-renowned crew of street artists. Seeing these huge murals created from a blank canvas to the initial outlines to the color starting to appear is really a joyous experience of creativity in action.”

we.Mural Festival has been in full swing the past few days on the gritty, colorful streets of this industrial-turned-arty city bringing in an array of artists such as Cobre, Fasm, Mister Toledo, Amy Burkman, Ratur, Jenna Morello.

A total of six murals will be produced from this year’s festival with about 30 paintings on building exteriors being created since the first mural festival in 2020, said Norgaard.

In a city of about 300 people and a finite number of commercial building exteriors, the Sand City city manager says there are still walls around to be a canvas for the art.

“There are still many blank walls in Sand City,” said Norgaard. “While some building owners initially do not want art on their buildings, many change their minds once they see murals going up on their neighbor’s walls.”

Norgaard stressed that the city is currently working on getting new buildings built in Sand City that would present future mural possibilities, and though the Sand City arts committee has chosen to focus on murals this year, it has discussed adding other forms of public art in the future.

For the finale on Friday, from 4-8 p.m., a local art battle will take place in front of Post No Bills Craft Beer House at 600 Ortiz Ave. in Sand City. Local artists who would like to apply for the art battle are encouraged to email the curators of the festival at info@talkingwalls.art.

According to the curators, applicants selected for the art battle will be given a $250 participation stipend. There will be a $500 award for the “Judges Pick,” and $500 awarded to the artist with the most crowd votes so participants are encouraged to bring friends.

But before the art battle begins, the Mobergs invite the community to join the Talking Walls team at 1 p.m on Friday for a bicycle tour where participants can visit each mural, watch artists add finishing touches, and hear the stories behind the artwork. Those bike enthusiasts interested in being part of the bike tour will be meeting outside of Post No Bills and encouraged to bring water.

Los Angeles-based mural artist Daniel Toledo, 36, works on his untitled work during the we.Mural Festival in Sand City that has been going on this week. (Ian Martin Photography)
Los Angeles-based mural artist Daniel Toledo, 36, works on his untitled work during the we.Mural Festival in Sand City that has been going on this week. (Ian Martin Photography)

The Mobergs are a husband and wife team out of San Francisco and were selected earlier this year as curators of this year’s festival. Their company, Talking Walls, has prior experience curating successful mural festivals including the Sprayview Festival in San Francisco, Wabash Walls in Indiana and RenARTWlk, also in Indiana. The Mobergs share a passion for bringing art to the streets with the belief that “art is for everyone,” along with the mission to “quell fears of graffiti and street art.”

Cameron Moberg has more than 20 years of mural experience, five of which he has curated festivals, and the Moberg’s company, Talking Walls, has a network of mural artists.

In its proposal to Sand City, Talking Walls says it is “an art studio without walls, which means our canvases are anywhere and everywhere — the only walls we have to claim are yours. From gritty metropolis city streets, to small town America, we’re on a mission to transform any space, city, or town into a vibrant, beautiful work of art.”

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