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Artists spread love with Monte Vista murals
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Murals painted alongside Monte Vista Avenue were created with the theme of “Love Prevails” in mind, meant to combat hatred in the city. - photo by Contributed

A group of artists and a Turlock couple with a vision are ensuring that love prevails in Turlock for years to come through a mural project on Monte Vista Avenue.

The wall that guards Kris and Doug Henderson’s house from the traffic on one of Turlock’s busiest roads has been blank for years, but cars speeding down Monte Vista Avenue will soon be greeted with a new sight: a colorful collection of murals painted with one thought in mind.

“We wanted to give some love back to the community,” Kris said.

The wall, located across the street from Brenda Athletic Club’s Training Center, is the perfect spot for a row of murals at over 130 feet long. After they decided they wanted their home’s entrance to be adorned with art, Kris and Doug took to Facebook where seven different artists with completely unique styles came forward, hoping to do the space justice.

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The seven murals painted on a wall along Monte Vista Avenue all feature the artists’ different styles, including a lifelike elephant that looks as if its emerging from a sunset. - photo by Contributed

Vicki Reid was one of the artists and was overjoyed to take part in what has been dubbed the “Love Prevails” mural project, meant to foster inclusivity in the city.

“I haven’t been painting long, but I come from a family of artist and am a quick learner, so I jumped at this opportunity to see what I could do and to make a positive impact in this community,” Reid said.

Reid and artists Lotus Vele, Aileen Roberts, Justin Johnson, Mandee Bratcher, Tanya Rae, Annabell Sousa and Ayla Henderson, Kris and Doug’s six-year-old granddaughter, created murals aimed toward eradicating some of the hate speech that has occurred in Turlock recently, which has included alt-right stickers posted around town and a recently reported hate crime, where a Hispanic woman was punched in the face by an unknown white man while purchasing strawberries.

“We thought that with all of the negativity and hate crimes going on around us, it would be a good time to see if people wanted to give the gift of art in a positive way,” Kris said. “It really turned out beautiful.”

The seven murals all feature the artists’ different styles, including a graffiti-like painting that spells out “Hope” in American Sign Language and a mural with a lifelike elephant that looks as if its emerging from a sunset.

Reid’s mural is meant to represent love, inclusion, diversity and acceptance of all people through illustrations that represent the melting pot of cultures and beliefs throughout the city, such as religious symbols and mythological creatures.

“I believe that Turlock needs some positive messages to counter some of the negative messages that have been circulating concerning race, anti-immigration and religious intolerance,” Reid said. “Art and music have such a strong influence on peoples’ beliefs and, ultimately, their world view.”

Both Reid and Kris believe that there is more room in Turlock for public art.

“More public art would be incredibly wonderful for Turlock,” Kris said. “it just makes me feel really good that we can offer this, and the energy is very positive so I’m hoping people pick up on that.”

While the murals are currently covered, there will be an unveiling of the art work at 11 a.m. Sunday. Reid hopes that both the paintings and their message will be a gift that keeps on giving.

“I hope that the murals will inspire people to show more love and acceptance to their fellow human beings and to realize that we are all part of this world and have every right to be here and to believe, live, work, grow, learn, worship and be a part of this community,” she said. “Everyone has something positive to give and share. Hopefully we can all learn to value and accept each other and accept each other as equals.”