By Hayley Thomas
Local artists of all ages and walks of life have partnered with Studios on the Park to create a vivid, community mural honoring and celebrating at-risk youth in Paso Robles.
The artwork — which could grace the eastside wall of the old A&R furniture building in downtown Paso Robles as early as next year — will also pay homage to the life of Bryan Brady, the 21-year-old hit by a freight train in Paso in 2010.
Each week, the group convenes at Studios on the Park to discuss the project as it moves forward. Organizers are currently in talks with the owner of the A & R Furniture building at 839 12th St in downtown Paso Robles as a possible location. Local restaurant Artisan is slated to move into the currently empty building during the spring of next year.
Local group Artists Re-Imagining Color [ARC], led by Henry A J Ramos, has rolled up its sleeves and taken on the endeavor. The disadvantage and at-risk teens and young adults are working on conceptualizing and planning the mural. According to Ramos, it's a fitting partnership.
"There's a core group of seven youth artists, teens, and young adults, and they've been the mainstay of the project over the last year and a half," said Ramos. "They are taking on responsibility for the mural and organizing other teens around them to design elements of this and other projects."
ARC has created a range of public art, including works hanging at the Paso Robles City Hall Library/Government Center. The youth are currently working on artwork that will be displayed on local RTA buses.
Ramos said that the young residents are dedicated "contributors to the civic culture of Paso Robles."
Mural co-organizer Rodi Bragg is a friend and supporter of the late Bryan Brady and his family. Her community group Justice for Bryan -- which she founded alongside Bryan's teenage sister, Laura Brady -- aims at cultivating discussion and public interest regarding the ongoing investigation into Brady's untimely death.
The mural itself may not give family and friends the closure they seek, but it can help to raise awareness, according to Bragg.
"We've joined forces with Studios on the Park to dedicate a memorial mural in Bryan's honor, and we hope that this mural project will raise awareness about his unsolved case and bring the community together on this issue," Bragg said. "We also hope that the symbol of this project will bring peace and healing to those who knew Bryan personally and to others in the community who felt the impact of his passing."
Ramos said it's important to note that many of the artists in the mural project come from "challenging backgrounds." Focusing on the arts allows those youth to express feelings in a constructive way."
Not a stranger to challenges in his own life, Bryan has been described by sister Laura as "shy," "deep" and "spiritual" with a tendency to appear to be "out there," although friends knew him as a tender and thoughtful person.
Ramos said he still remembers the first time he met Bryan, a DJ, philosopher and individualist with his own artistic ideas.
"One of the installations I did [with ARC] was a Berlin Wall commemoration installation, and Bryan showed up with a bunch of guys in his circle and they all contributed significantly with that project," Ramos said. "We talked about formulating an art project that was his idea, before he was killed."
Ramos said Bryan talked about tying large pieces of canvas to the trees in Downtown City Park.
"He wanted to create a whole, long, multifaceted art project through the park," said Ramos. "He would have been a great addition t this work but sadly, shortly after that, he was found dead. We will always remember Bryan."
Ramos said the project itself ahs grown to become "bigger than Bryan," addressing all sorts of challenges teens and young adults face."
"We are expanding out," Ramos said. "We want to create a good blend of youth imagery in a street art context but with a special meaning, thinking about Bryan as well as other youth facing risks or challenges in their lives."
According to Ramos, the finished piece will be something that the entire community can be proud of.
"It's going to be vibrant, exciting and magnetic, as well as a really nice addition to the downtown scene," Ramos said. "Our hope is that it will be something that the whole community will be involved in"
About Artists Re-Imagining Color
Artists Re-Imagining Color (ARC), originally formed as the Studios on the Park Teen Art Group, is an active community of teens and young adults who lead and participate in a broad range of private and public art projects. Real6 Often these activities involve artists associated with Studios on the Park, as well as members of the broader Paso Robles community. Email group leader Henry A J Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Join The Mural Team
Every Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. artists are welcome to help design a memorial mural for Bryan Brady at Studios on the Park, located in downtown Paso Robles on Pine Street. Also take advantage of an open opportunity to be part of a series of youth-focused mural projects within the community. Painting the mural is slated for next year. Email email@example.com for more information.