New public art is on display in Santa Rosa’s West End neighborhood. Nestled between Sixth Street and SMART train tracks, the Assistance League of Sonoma County’s Thrift Shop is home to a new mural. On the building's east wall, the project's title is Transforming Lives Strengthening Community and it was made in collaboration with Artstart, a local nonprofit.
Shelley Maschwitz with the Assistance League (AL) explained the original motivation for the mural.
"We get a lot of graffiti out here," Maschwitz said. "We noticed we have five panels on the other wall that was done by Artstart in 2011, that never gets graffiti."
The new project once again brings together the Assistance League and Artstart, both of which are focused on youth advocacy and assistance. It also incorporates contributions from CHOPS Teen Club, another local youth organization.
Lisa Stoddard, current Assistance League president, said their philanthropy projects include:
"Providing literacy development. We also provide backpacks and bags of supplies to women, children, and homeless youth. We give financial assistance to students. " Stoddard said. "Typically teen mothers, we go into preschools and we do free hearing and vision screening, and we provide essential infant wardrobes."
Meanwhile, Artstart president Jayne Burns said recent projects, like the mural on the AL thrift shop, have been hugely successful.
"Despite the pandemic, we have been reaching out to more teens and literally every project we do, blossoms." Burns said.
As for the mural itself, lead artist Chris McKee, a former Artstart pupil himself, said the 8x33-foot mural required a team effort.
"One of the really fun moments was having every single person from the art house work on the wash." McKee said. "So the gradation that you see, you have to do it where it's all wet paint. I had two apprentices who were with me for most of the project, and then we had 20 people on the wall for two hours."