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Arts Commission continues talks on Columbia Park mural project
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A 16-foot mural and handball wall slated for Columbia Park is finally making headway, and will soon go before the Turlock City Council.

Initially, the concept behind the project was to honor the lives of children lost in gang and drug related incidents that have occurred on the westside of town. However, the Turlock City Arts Commission felt as though there were implications tied with honoring specific names and that it might elicit some unwanted emotions from the public.

 “There were always issues about how people felt about the names of these people up on a wall,” Lynn Gaiser Sarraille, chair of the Arts Commission, said at last week's meeting. “We had to be sensitive about parents.”

Sarraille went on to explain that the commission then made the decision to gear the project more towards celebration of the community rather than making the proposed mural a memorial.

“It would be better to maybe to celebrate peoples' feelings about living on the westside and the good community support they all have and give each other,” Sarraille said.

Although the group has not yet commissioned anyone specifically to paint the mural, they have made it clear that those selected will be members of the local community. The commission also said that it has four possible artist in mind.

Itzel Villalobos, local community member and supporter of the mural project, has been attending commission meetings since the inception of the project.  Villalobos felt as though this was a prime opportunity for local artists to showcase their talent.

“The whole mural thing is for our community and represents our community. We want our own local artists because they have a lot of talent here,” she said.

Villalobos hopes that the project will help with the recognition of the positive aspects that go overlooked in regards to the westside.

“Hopefully, this project helps the rest of the community to know that there is more to us and more to where we’re from,” she said.

Commissioners also discussed possible methods for funding of the project and necessary architectural repairs that were needed to be done at the park before construction can  begin.

Currently, local business including Jamba Juice and Applebees have been open to the idea of helping fundraise for the project.

The commission will speak in regards to the proposed mural project at the Turlock City Council meeting on June 4.