published on February 3, 2017 - 4:21 AM
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If weather forecasts for the coming weeks are right, Downtown Fresno’s newest mural could be completed before the end of this month.


In the meantime, downtown workers and visitors will be able to see the five-story mural as it takes shape, starting on Feb. 10, when artists are scheduled to begin painting it across the back wall of the historic Fresno Bee Building at 1545 Van Ness Ave., said Frank Delgado, executive director of Arte Américas, which operates the Latino Cultural Center in downtown, the Central Valley’s largest nonprofit cultural center.

“Everybody will be able to see this,” as work is done on the $150,000 project commissioned by Arte Américas, which is being paid for mostly with a $95,000 donation from the McClatchy Fresno Art Endowment and a $35,000 grant from the California Arts Council, he said.

Once finished, the mural will show a young man reading a book with the back part of his body turning into birds flying away.

The style of the mural is an homage to the poet laureates, playwrights, novelists, poets and other writers hailing from Fresno and surrounding areas, including those who are famous — including Juan Felipe Herrera, William Saroyan, Mia Barraza and Mai Der Vang, to name a few — and others not widely known, said Delgado, explaining that the birds represent the words and ideas of writers from here “flying off” to all corners of the globe.

Fresno muralist FranCisco Vargas initially was brought on to design and oversee work on the mural, but after he lost his battle with cancer in 2015, Los Angeles muralist Francisco Letelier was commissioned to take over production of the mural, inspired by the art of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

Letelier selected Fresno artist Mauro Carrera to be his primary assistant on the project. The two spent portions of eight days between rainstorms in early January cleaning and painting primer on the south wall of the building, which now houses the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC).

The two men, along with another Fresno artist, Michael Howe, will do all the painting themselves.
As for how Arte Américas will pay for the unfunded part of the mural project, the nonprofit plans to sell two sizes of tiles for $250 or $500 that will be put up on the wall under the mural.

Buyers can put family or business names on their tiles, or they can put on the names of poets and writers to honor them, Delgado said.

The tiles can be purchased by emailing tiles@arteamericas.org or by calling 266-2623.

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