SAN JOSE, Calif. -- One-hundred artists are building a better Bay Area, one brush stroke at a time. A new massive mural project is going up in Downtown San Jose in an effort to curb graffiti, beautify streets and get people into public spaces.
Each independent artist is creating a 3x3 mural in an alleyway off First Street. The 100BlockSJ project is perking up people walking near the once gray walls.
On Wednesday afternoon, San Jose resident Tomas Goin stopped to admire the work.
"I've lived here all my life and I've seen this city go from something good to something really bad," he told ABC7 News. "To see it being revitalized before my very eyes is something I've dreamed about for years."
Goin explained the quick transformation is hard to believe. "One minute, I walk through here and it was a bare wall. Within a week, here's this magnificent mural on this wall," Goin said.
Artists began working on the wall on February 12. Soon, each three-foot-square space will be covered in color. The project offers an outlet for artists and an opportunity for them to help build a better Bay Area.
"If it looks like people are here and they love and care for this alleyway, then it becomes a little bit safer," Erin Salazar said. "The perception of safety becomes much higher."
Salazar is the founder and executive director of the Exhibition District-- an art-based start-up in San Jose. She is also the 100BlockSJ project manager, an independent artist and mural contributor.
Salazar said about 90-percent of the participating artists are local, from around the Bay Area. Others have flown in from Colorado, Florida, Texas and Oregon to participate. One-hundred artists in total.
"Every one of our artists is getting paid to do this," Salazar explained. "In the next two weeks, we're going to be able to drop $30,000 directly to the artist community. So, every artist is getting paid $300."
Salazar said the payment is important to note. "Often times artists, I think because they're so passionate about the work that they do, they get paid in exposure," Salazar told ABC7 News. "But we all try to pay our rent in exposure, we all try to pay our cell phone bills in exposure and it doesn't quite work out the same."
According to the project website, after completion, 100BlockSJ will be a Guinness World Record for the largest collaborative mural.
Participating artists usually work from sunup to sundown to complete their portion of the mural wall.
"If you see everybody working at different paces, different techniques, it's just a different way of problem-solving," artist, Bertrand "Patron" Paule told ABC7 News.
Problem-solving is right up Paule's alley. Even after sunset, he continued painting. ABC7 News was there as the artist balanced a brush in one hand, and a lantern in another.
For many walking along First Street, his dedication was a welcome sight.
"It just brings such joy to actually see the city being transformed," Tomas Goin said.
If the weather cooperates, work should wrap up by the end of this February. An official unveiling is scheduled for March 1st.
You can find the murals along S First Street, between E San Salvador and W San Carlos in Downtown San Jose. You'll notice the artwork directly across the street from the California Theater.
Go here for more information on 100BlockSJ.
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