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Downtown bar seeking mural submissions
The Grand Cru back alley
The Grand Cru is taking submissions from artists who are willing to turn their blank back wall into a mural masterpiece (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

The Grand Cru is hoping to make downtown Turlock more vibrant, calling on artists far and wide to bring forward their best ideas for a mural on the bar’s blank back wall.

“We’re always trying to find ways to stay relevant and cool, and we’re always wanting to do new things,” Grand Cru general manager Devin Hill said. “This is something we’ve put together to add to that.”

Through the end of January, The Grand Cru is accepting submissions from artists who think their talents should be displayed on the space above the bar’s back door, facing the alley. Hill said he and The Grand Cru owner Jerry Powell were inspired to incorporate a mural into the space after seeing Modesto’s successful street art that has become a draw for visitors. It’s their hope that artwork on the streets — or alleyways — of Turlock will have the same magnetic appeal.

“Downtown Turlock is so cool and has so much to offer. It just needs more people taking pictures of it and seeing it somehow,” Hill said. “We want to reach outside and not just bring people to our place, but bring people downtown in general.”

So far, The Grand Cru has received submissions from close to 15 artists who believe their artwork would look best on the wall, with some hailing from as far as Sacramento. The mural doesn’t have to pertain to The Grand Cru in any way, Hill said.

“We didn’t really want to put too many fences around it, because then it limits the pool of artists,” he said. “I think it’d be cool if we got someone local and they did something representative of our local area, but we don’t want to paint ourselves into a corner — literally.”

A mural on the back wall of The Grand Cru would be the first public art of its kind to grace the downtown core, and Hill hopes more businesses will follow suit.

“I personally think it’s important because it’s something that’s going on in bigger cities, and it shows that the downtown is about more than just brick and mortar buildings that are there to make money,” Hill said. “The owner of our building is all for it, so if we could convince other building owners to do it that would be fun.”

The mural is just another way The Grand Cru has set itself apart from other bars in the area. The space is reinventing itself as a cocktail lounge rather than a wine bar, Hill said, offering CBD cocktails, hosting drag shows on the weekend and even offering performances from illusionists.

“This is just one more piece in a broader picture of stuff we’re trying to be the first to do,” he said.

The Grand Cru is asking experienced muralists to submit their ideas via Instagram or Facebook, and asks that each submission include any previous work, a proof of concept and a copy of their mural idea with a sketch.

“I’ve seen it take shape in Modesto, and it makes their downtown feel cool. It’s fun to look at instead of just a plain wall,” Hill said. “It really ties the community together.”