Do you have an opinion? Artist seeks your ideas for city mural

An example of one of Caryl Yasko's community-created art projects--"Prairie Wave," Polyette, Wisconsin.

An example of one of Caryl Yasko’s community-created art projects–“Prairie Wave,” Polyette, Wisconsin.

Caryl Yasko, nationally-recognized muralist, came to the right place if she’s looking for opinions. She’s been commissioned, through a grant funded by PG&E and obtained by the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, to create a mural that will become part of the public art collection for the City of Davis.

This is the first of three community art projects that the public will have the opportunity to help create–in addition to this mural there’s a “street mural” planned for the intersection at Fourth and K Streets as well as “art benches” planned for along newly-restored Putah Creek Parkway. It’s all a result of the Community Built Association conference taking place in Davis in early April.

The goals of this project, located in a high-traffic bike and pedestrian throughway connecting Putah Creek Parkway in south Davis with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden’s newly-constructed California Native Plant GATEway Garden, are numerous—to beautify the environment, to unite two recently-improved areas, to pay homage to the history of the land, the creek, and California flora, and last, but not least, to infuse that certain “je ne sais quoi” for which Davis is known.

It’s a tall order, but Yasko’s specialty is working with communities to help them express their voices.

“Art should be available to everyone,” says Yasko. “My approach as an artist is to serve as a facilitator and make it possible for communities to create their own unique art.”

In order to make this happen, Yasko, in collaboration with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, is holding multiple forums where members of the public can brainstorm and develop a theme for the mural. They are also invited to draw, but organizers don’t want that aspect to discourage anyone from participating.

“I only invite participants to draw using the eight elements of line—light, dark, short, think, thin curved and straight,” explains Yasko.“In this environment, lack of formal art training is never bad.”

“We are excited to be hosting Caryl and collaborating with our community on another project,” states Emily Griswold, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden head of GATEways horticulture and organizer for this event. “This process fits perfectly with our history of collaboration and co-creation.”

Which session(s) should you attend? You are welcome by organizers to attend all nine, or if you have opinions and ideas about what story the mural should tell, attend a theme development workshop. If you are more interested in exploring the artistic qualities of the mural, attend the design development workshops. Interested in checking out the mural’s location and meeting the artist for a few minutes? RSVP for a drop-in session.

Register of any or all of these events via the UC Davis Arboretum website: arboretum.ucdavis.edu. Upon registration you will be kept informed of any event updates by email.

Theme Development Workshops: Brainstorming and Content Development
Refreshments provided by Whole Foods Market Davis

Design Development Workshops: Group Drawing and Composition Activities
Refreshments provided by Whole Foods Market Davis

Design Drop-in Sessions: Information conversions and activities with the artist on site
Refreshments provided by Whole Foods Market Davis

Like to paint? Yasko doesn’t  just want your ideas. Community members and attendees of the Community Built Association conference will be invited to finalize the project in perpetuity at the end of March and beginning of April. Stay tuned!


  1. Patricia L Rott February 14, 2014 Reply

    I would love to see a mural of our local Indian tribes that lived on this beautiful property before us.
    Thank you for your consideration.
    Patricia L Rott

    • Author
      UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden February 18, 2014 Reply

      Hi Patricia! Thank you for taking the time to comment. We hope that you are able to attend one of the drop-in sessions or workshops with this artist. If not, we’ll be sure to share this idea with her. It is a great suggestion and one that has also been suggested in other forums.

  2. Bernadette Balics February 14, 2014 Reply

    I wonder why an artist from Wisconsin is needed to do a community design process, when there is so much local talent. Please enlighten me. Thank you.

    • Author
      UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden February 18, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for your comment. I hope this additional information gives you a more complete picture of this project’s background and why this particular muralist will be leading the effort.

      Caryl Yasko has over four decades of experience in creating community murals and is considered a master in the field. She was invited to lead the creation of this mural as a training component of the Community Built Association conference that will be happening in Davis this spring. Caryl will be sharing her techniques with emerging local artists during the conference to help them strengthen their professional practices. The goals of this project are not only to engage the Davis community in creating an amazing mural, but also to train the next generation of mural-makers in techniques that Caryl has developed and mastered over her long career.

      Donna Billick, our own local master artist, will also be leading the creation of art benches for the Putah Creek Parkway as part of the Community Built Association Conference. Donna will be sharing her techniques for the involvement of community members in the creation of ceramic mosaic sculpture.

  3. Lois February 16, 2014 Reply

    Your links are WRONG — the dates are reversed to sign up for Feb 22 and 23.

    • Author
      UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden February 18, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for catching this error Lois! The links are correct now! We really appreciate your taking the time to let us know about this error.

  4. Roberta February 18, 2014 Reply

    Unfortunately, attending these sessions is not possible… this seemed to be promoted as a web-opinion solicitation… too bad it isn’t! In hopes that some comments can be accepted here: I grew up on Putah Creek, and remember all the great bull frogs that used to reside in the creek…don’t forget the animals/fauna, as well as the flora, in your mural!

    • Author
      UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden February 20, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Roberta! We’ll be sure to let Caryl know about your experience. Yesterday she documented a huge list of all the flora and fauna that used to reside in the creek including bull frogs!

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