(Watsonville artist Judy Gittelsohn (left) gets help from Theresa Brewer in moving two panels painted by Gittelsohn in golden acrylic that are part of the new Movable Murals project at the front of the old Watsonville City Hall building in downtown Watsonville Wednesday. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — To celebrate Watsonville's sesquicentennial, Pajaro Valley Arts wanted to create a public art project that recognized the city's people and agriculture.
The result is Movable Murals, four large-scale works of art mounted on the front of the old city hall building on 250 Main St.
Judy Stabile, who has been managing the project, said she served on the city's sesquicentennial celebration committee, where the idea of a public art project was conceived.
Working with the City of Watsonville, Pajaro Valley Arts received a $10,000 grant from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to fund the pilot project.
"It's an ambitious project," Stabile said. "The city has been very supportive."
In an open call, artists were asked to focus on topics such as the Pajaro Valley’s history, people, neighborhoods, landscape, natural resources, arts and culture.
Artists Bonni Carver, Paul DeWorken, Judy Gittelsohn and Taylor Reinhold were chosen to create the murals, which range in size from eight-by-eight feet to eight-by-20 feet.
A mounting system to display the works on the building was designed by Kris Heil and fabricated by Cheney Metals. The plywood used as a canvas for the artwork was provided by Monument Lumber.
The murals showcase apples, strawberries, birds and the ocean.
"It's so impactful when you are driving by," Stabile said of the work.
She added that the mounting system allows the work to be moved to other buildings and be replaced. The goal is to change the artwork annually.
With the help of mother-daughter duo Ida and Katy Griffin, Gittelsohn's golden acrylic painting depicts a strawberry. She said she was inspired by her time as a participant in Focus Agriculture, a program organized by Agri-Culture that allows community leaders to learn firsthand about agriculture in Santa Cruz County and the Pajaro Valley.
"It really worked well for me," she said of the project. "I just had so much fun doing it."
The public is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Aug. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at 250 Main St.