The Grand Theatre (Tracy, CA)

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When I was out walking the self-guided tour of the historic buildings of downtown Tracy, CA, the coolest place I saw was the Grand Theatre.

img_7412According to the walking tour brochure,

The Grand Theatre was built in 1923 by German born John Droge to present vaudeville acts and then-silent motion pictures. The first “talkies” were show in 1929. Remodeled in 1940 in an Art Deco style, the movie house continued until 1977. In 2007 the city restored the theater complex and it was reopened as The Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.

According to the theatre’s website (http://atthegrand.org/AboutUs),

The classical Grand Theatre, designed by architect Albert W. Cornelius, opened on August 11, 1923 as a premiere vaudeville half-house in the area.

The facility received a major remodel during its heyday between 1939 and 1941 (under the Allen’s ownership), garnered with bold new art deco features including a sculptural marquee designed by Alexander Cantin and futuristic mural by Anthony (Antoon) Heinsbergen. Between the mid-40’s and 1977, it functioned as an eclectic movie house with occasional live performances.

This municipal interdisciplinary arts center is the only one of its kind in the state of California offering professional and community-based fine arts programming through arts education, exhibitions, performances and rentals of all kinds, in a single complex, and is one of only small network of similar facilities in America.

The 37,000+ square foot facility opened in September of 2007, hosts 50,000 patrons a year and is currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary Season. The Center is owned and operated by the City of Tracy and managed by the Cultural Arts Division in the City Manager’s Office.

img_7400I went inside to have a look around, and was surprised to find free Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) activities underway. I grabbed a free piece of pan dulce and exited the building.

There were some cool murals on the theatre’s 7th Street wall. They caught my attention, and I stopped to give them a good look.

The murals are part of the Tracy Mural Project. According to the project’s website (http://atthegrand.org/TracyMuralProject),

The Downtown Tracy Mural Project began in the summer of 2015 in conjunction with the Tracy Artwalk.  The Project invites local and regional artists to create murals and street art at 7th Street and in Jackson Alley on the walls of the Grand.  This innovative project features temporary murals owned by the City of Tracy. They remain on display from weeks to years, rotating as new works are presented.  The public appreciation of these projects has led to futhur interest to create murals at other locations in downtown Tracy.img_7397

Several themes have been explored in a variety of media, ranging from spray paint to wheatpaste, energizing the streetscape and celebrating the arts in our community.  We are open to any ideas which add interest and excitement to the downtown district!

I really liked the robots decorating the wall during my visit.

I also liked the mural featuring the wolf and the crow. The mural was painted by Ilena Finocchi. According to Finocchi’s website (http://www.ilenaf.com/ilenaf.com/Pub_Art/Pages/Tracy_CA_Mural.html),

In nature, the wolf and the crow can be frequently found in each other’s company. They have been linked together in play and in foraging for food. The crows fly ahead of the wolf pack to locate food, and the grateful wolves leave behind food for the crows. This symbiotic relationship between the two species is mutually beneficial.

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    In developing the Grand, citizens and civic leaders looked more than a decade into the future to see the community’s needs and goals. They, much like the crow, flew years ahead and decided that reviving the arts at the Grand was the cultural nourishment that Tracy needed. They raised money and awareness to rebuild and reopen the Grand as the creative hub for the City of Tracy. The wolves soon followed and the Grand reopened with support of the community.

    Since opening, there have been many hard working crow-like staff members who have had the foresight to keep the Grand evolving with the changing needs of the wolf-like hungry community. The mural is a way for me as an artist to assume the role of the crow and through the art let the community know about the dedication and hard work of the staff at the Grand. The Grand has become a positive and powerful force in the community, not only in participation in the arts, but also as a cultural jewel to draw new businesses and corporations into town.

    The mural is a celebration of the long road of hard work and the driving force of the arts and its positive impact on the community.

The other cool mural is “Planet of the Apes” Kenney Mencher.

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According to the Tracy Press (http://www.goldenstatenewspapers.com/tracy_press/news/more-music-murals-for-artwalk/article_2350e088-2e8a-11e6-94fe-e3e964b2ff82.html),

Mencher, who is the Grand’s artist in residence this summer [2016], will create a streetscape with a “Planet of the Apes” theme on Seventh Street. Wilson said the piece will provide a photo opportunity for visitors to pose on a bench with the mural wrapping around them.

From what I surmise, Mencher painted the robots too.

The Tracy Press also reported in the aforementioned article,

The murals are designed to be temporary projects, lasting from a few weeks to a few years.

I’ve grown to think of murals (especially murals approved by a municipality) as permanent. As the Merry Pranksters proclaimed, art is not eternal. Apparently the murals in Tracy prove this idea to be true.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

About Blaize Sun

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist. Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it. I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk. This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

2 Responses »

  1. Hello,
    I live just over the hill in Fremont and never knew all of this was in Tracy. I enjoy your writing so much, and the pictures add to the interest and flow of the story. Thanks for the information, I’ll have to take a trip over there one of these days.

    • So glad you enjoy my writing and this story in particular. Once you visit Tracy, I would love for you to leave a comment telling us what you thought. Thanks for reading and for leaving this comment.

I'd love to know what you think. Please leave a reply