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Mural brightens Columbia Park
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Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth talks with kids in the City of Turlock afterschool program about the new mural at Columbia Park following the art piece’s dedication ceremony on Wednesday (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Butterflies, birds, fishes, a giant sunny face and other creatures great and small will welcome visitors to Columbia Park now that a mural project between the city and Stanislaus State was officially unveiled Wednesday.

Stanislaus State Art Professor Jacob Weigel spearheaded the project with art students from the university as part of the Mayor’s Public Policy Award. For a few years Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth has been donating his mayoral salary to fund a public policy award in an effort to get Stanislaus State students actively involved in local issues.

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Two of the Stanislaus State students who helped spearhead the Columbia Park mural project talk about how the design was inspired by the neighborhood residents (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

The university team reached out to park users, residents in the neighborhood and children at nearby Osborn Elementary School and Westside Ministries to gather their ideas before the design of the artwork began. Once the design was completed, they shared it with park neighbors for feedback and submitted it to the city of Turlock for approval.

Community paint days helped get the majority of the project completed. Once the bulk of the painting was done, the students cleaned up details and put the final touches on the art.

The mural covers up 960 square feet of cinderblock at the park and encapsulates some of the natural elements of the park and the state.

“This mural is hats off to our California history,” said Soiseth.

The Turlock City Council previously voted to allocate $2,500 from the city’s tourism account to pay for future maintenance of the completed project.

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Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder and Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth talk with three local kids right before the unveiling of the new mural at Columbia Park (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Those who worked on the project our hopeful this will just be the beginning for murals and other art projects in Turlock.

“I hope we continue this process and make the city more colorful,” said Xamuel Bañales, an assistant professor and director of Ethnic Studies at Stanislaus State and resident of Turlock’s westside.