At the intersection of Mission Street and Hillside Boulevard is a new 2,000-square-foot mural created and envisioned by art club students at Jefferson High School in Daly City.
The mural, located on the outside wall of the Daly City Mitsubishi dealership, imitates a vintage postcard and celebrates life in Daly City, showcasing foggy, hillside neighborhoods and iconic Daly City locations and imagery.
The ambitious project was a partnership between Dragonfly Community Arts, Bay Area Mural Program (BAMP), Jefferson High School, and Daly City leaders and community members.
The project got its start in the Fall of 2021, when Dragonfly Community Arts connected with Victoria Magbilang, executive director of the Daly City Public Library Associates and current San Mateo County Arts Commissioner, about the need for public art in Daly City. The idea was to not only find a way to bring public art to the city, but to also educate and inspire young artists. Dragonfly looked no further than Jefferson High School and Bay Area Mural Program.
The art club at Jefferson is student-led and meets weekly after school to explore new art opportunities and for students to learn from each other and explore their creativity. Dragonfly and Victoria thought these students would love to learn how to paint murals and help with a project in the community that they could call their own. The next step was finding professional muralists who could take the students under their wing and set them up for success. That is when BAMP came into the picture.
BAMP is an Oakland-based nonprofit made up of artists with the mission of creating public art and turning “bare, blighted walls into artistic gateways into the community’s surrounding environment.” BAMP and its artists have designed and executed brilliant murals all over the city of Oakland and in various locations across the Bay Area. Dragonfly Community Arts was able to commission BAMP and its artists to not only help produce a mural at Mission and Hillside, but to create a curriculum that would help instruct the Jefferson students on how to create and paint murals. The curriculum would culminate in a mural that would be the exclusive design of the Jefferson students.
For six weeks, through a combination of virtual and in-person instruction, the BAMP team taught the art students about the history of murals, how symbols and composition are successfully used in murals, how the students can refine their drawing skills, and much more. But before all of that, the art club needed to come up with a name for their mural team. The students decided on GrizzArt, a play on Jefferson’s mascot the Grizzlies.
The BAMP team also spent several classroom days helping the students conceptualize what they wanted their mural to look like. While the BAMP artists were on hand with instruction and mentoring, the finished product had to be the creative concept of the Jefferson students.
Students voted to create a mural that has the look of a vintage vacation postcard. The mural says, “Greetings from Daly City, California.” Students were asked to pick and draw their favorite things about Daly City, those images would then be painted inside each letter of the words Daly City. Images inside the letters include Blue Blossoms, native flowers to Daly City; typical rowhouses seen in Daly City; a Grizzly Bear to represent the Jefferson High School mascot; a Top of the Hill sign; a BART train; Sutro Tower; the Cow Palace; and the old fountain at the Serramonte Mall.
At the end of the classes and with the design approved, the BAMP team got to work on getting the wall ready for painting. With the framework of the design painted on the wall, the Jefferson students were allowed to come once a week to help paint their design. BAMP team members were on hand to help the students.
Due to the size of the mural, and for safety issues, students were only permitted to paint on the ground-level of the mural. When students left for the day, BAMP artists got to work climbing the scaffolding and painting the top portions of the mural.
The mural project continued into the summer, with many Jefferson art club students enthusiastic to come out during their vacation to finish the project and spend time with the BAMP artists and the rest of GrizzArt.
The Daly City mural wrapped up on July 1, 2022, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for September 13, 2022. Dragonfly will celebrate with the art club students and all those who made the project a reality.
Dragonfly would not only like to thank Victoria Magbilang, but also Donna Carusis, owner of the building at Hillside and Mission, for providing this wonderful opportunity for the students at Jefferson. We would also like to thank Suzanne Koehnlein, Jefferson High School teacher and club advisor for GrizzArt, and the BAMP artists.
The lesson of the Daly City mural project is that many hands came together for the sole purpose of uplifting students and the community through art. This beautiful mural, a gift to the Daly City community, would not have been successful without the hard work and dedication of the students, artists, teachers, and community leaders who partnered with Dragonfly Community Arts.