The Turlock West Side Story Mural Project will produce two murals created for Turlock’s West Side neighborhood. The murals will be designed and executed under the direction of artist and UC Merced faculty member Richard Gomez. Richard has worked on numerous public art projects throughout California and abroad. As a native of Turlock, the cultural traditions of the community he knows so well form a core focus in his art.
The first mural in the project is Chicano Downtown located at 132 S. First Street. The design includes references to icons of Mexican/Mexican-American/Latinx culture. Richard’s family owned the Mexican Kitchen restaurant that at one time occupied this building. The image of the warrior at the center of the composition is drawn from a painting that decorated the interior of the family restaurant. The female figure at the left of the mural appears as if a memory of generations past. When looking at the mural, the 1964 Chevy Impala appears in our present (the foreground), and everything else begins to fade into the background that includes a sunset over distant Central Valley hills. Richard’s memories of family, neighborhood, and community inform everything about the mural’s design.
The second mural in the project will be painted inside the Carnegie Arts Center’s Ferrari Gallery in January 2024 as a collaboration between Richard and students from Turlock’s Roselawn High School. This temporary mural will be on view from February 13 – May 18, 2024, featured in an exhibition surveying Richard’s career as an artist. The community and history of the West Side are essential to the fabric of Turlock’s past, present and future. We are fortunate to be able to look back on Turlock through the artist’s experiences and memories, and we will look forward to what today’s young people help him create.
Thanks go to the artist’s talented assistants on this project:
Perla Cerna and Daniel “Thore” Munoz.
Funding for the murals in the Turlock West Side Story project came through a grant funded by the California Arts Council’s California Creative Corps program, aimed at providing jobs and economic recovery for artists in a variety of disciplines. Locally, the grants are managed by the Heartland Creative Corps, a collaborative effort joining the Arts Councils of Merced, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne Counites, and administered by United Way of Merced County.