A bright start to summer: New mural adds color to downtown Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

A bright start to summer: New mural adds color to downtown Grass Valley

The new downtown Grass Valley mural as it sits finished Wednesday June 21 on the corner of Mill and Main Street.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com |

Grass Valley’s newest public art installation, a 20-foot by 80-foot mural on the corner of Mill and East Main Streets donated to the city by the Alexander Chambers Gallery, was completed Wednesday by artist Justin Lovato.

Lovato spent just over a week painting in both the unseasonal June rain and extreme late-spring heat.

Lovato, a Sacramento native and former Grass Valley resident, called it a “huge honor” to have his work featured downtown.

He said the Grass Valley arts community was particularly inspirational to his career.

“It’s under the surface still, but for such a small town, the amount of artistic talent here is incredibly dense,” Lovato said.

That talent may soon be formally recognized when the California Arts Council announces the finalists in its “Cultural Arts Districts” program, which honors “well-recognized, labeled geographical areas in which high concentrations of cultural facilities, creative enterprises or arts venues serve as the main anchors of attraction.”

Grass Valley and Nevada City, who have teamed up to apply for the program, are among the 22 semi-finalists that are being considered as potential state arts districts. If they’re chosen as finalists, the cities could receive extra funding for arts programs and broader recognition as creative hubs. The finalists will be announced next month, according to the Nevada County Arts Council.

“This would allow us to focus our community’s energy and begin the process of letting the rest of the world know how deep our arts community truly is,” said Jon Blinder, board president of the Nevada County Arts Council.

Haven Caravelli, who owns Center of Movement Studio in Grass Valley and presented Lovato’s mural design to city council for approval, said public art is particularly important for the city, not only because it showcases the talents of the community, but also because it helps attract people to downtown. In the age of online shopping, brick-and-mortar storefronts are struggling to stay afloat.

“The mural has been a wonderful project in community engagement,” Caravelli said. “It has served its purpose of capturing our community’s attention and drawing people to our downtown. I look forward to many more projects that bring people from all over to Grass Valley.”

Caravelli plans to propose other public art projects to the city in the near future, she said.

Lovato will sell prints and t-shirts of his mural design through his website, justinlovato.com. Caravelli also plans to sell shirts at Center of Movement Studio downtown at 107 West Main Street, Grass Valley.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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