ENJOY PASO: Denver artists design new downtown mural

© 2018-Paso Robles Press

Studios On The Park, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and SoGnar Creative Division out of Denver recently finished a collaborative, public art mural near downtown Paso Robles titled “Enjoy Paso.” The mural, which was designed by SoGnar, enlisted the help of more than 40 local volunteers to paint the piece, which is located on the north side of the building that houses Spring Seafood Bar & Grill at the corner of 12th and Spring Streets.

Studios on the Park Executive Director Sasha Irving came up with the idea for the mural and recruited the SoGnar group to take on the project after seeing some of their work in Denver. Funding for the mural was provided by Studios partner Firestone Walker.

“This beautiful mural truly captures the essence of Paso Robles, including its rich history, natural beauty and agricultural heritage,” Irving said. “We are so thrilled by what Pat Milbery and his team have created for our community and thankful for the generous support of Firestone Walker and to our other community partners.”

The mural is a colorful tribute to local scenery and history of Paso Robles and features rolling hills, a tractor, a multi-colored cow, grape vines, subtle acorns with leaves, and a geometric rendering of the word ‘Paso’ in bright, bold colors.

Pat Milbery, one of the creators at SoGnar Creative Division, said they found inspiration for the mural after learning more about Paso Robles’ history and cultural heritage and he said they hoped to introduce public art to the city through this first installation.

“The whole hope and the goal is to give a little nice introduction to public art through this wall,” Milbery said. “It’s definitely not a small one … and it’s very highly visible.”

Milbery and the SoGnar group, which consists of Milbery and artists Jason Graves, Pat Mckinney and Hunter Sevens, have created several murals in Denver and around the country, including a recent mural in New Orleans, and one in Miami.

Milbery said he hoped the Paso mural would be a place where tourists and locals could document their experience in the area and he said the building’s owner, George Shoemaker, made it all possible by giving them the wall space to paint and preparing the space for them before they arrived.

“George really wanted his building to feel welcoming,” Milbery said. “We wanted it to be a nice open, photogenic wall for people to come to Paso, locals and/or tourists, to have a place where they can remember Paso from, along with all their other experiences, like a giant digital postcard.”

Shoemaker got involved in the project after Irving contacted him about using the space, stating that it was an ideal location because of its visibility on Spring Street. According to Shoemaker, he wanted to replace the unfinished, older mural, which depicted grape vines and a handful of local wineries, with something vibrant and appealing to contrast the surrounding area.

“All you gotta do is look around, you really see an absence of color,” Shoemaker said of the tan colored buildings that surround the downtown area. “All of the sudden, boom, you come here and it’s like, ‘wow this really just makes a big statement.’”

More than 40 volunteers showed up to help paint the wall and everyone worked in shifts until the wall was finished. Milbery said he was impressed with the number of people who showed up to help, and he noted that many of the younger people were eager to see more public art in Paso.

“There is a hunger from a younger generation for more art in Paso,” Milbery said. “We saw a huge demand talking to a lot of the volunteers about more murals, more public art, and wanting to be more involved.”

Milbery said he hoped the project helps the city and local business owners see the benefit of pubic art in Paso and he said the project was one step in seeing more events involving public art displays.

“The goal with this project was to open up the city’s mind as well as other business owners to public art,” Milbery said. “We’re hoping that this will... encourage more business owners and other people to be open minded, or want to help fund projects, or be part of the public art and create more street art walk experience or public art walk experiences, that’s the goal.”

Irving said the mural showcased the community’s desire and ability to come together to make public art in Paso a possibility. Public meetings were held to get community input and Irving worked to get the city’s approval for the piece. “This mural is a testament to collaboration and a vibrant new asset to our local arts scene,” Irving said.

For more information about the mural and Studios on the Park, visit their studio at 1130 Pine Street. For more information on the SoGnar Creative Division, contact them at [email protected]

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