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Book Showcases Manteca Murals And Those Elsewhe
A jogger passes by a section of the 4,000-square-foot “Crossroads” mural gracing the Main Street wall of Century Furniture located at Yosemite and Main that is Manteca’s largest. It covers 4,000 square feet and depicts what Manteca’s business district looked like in 1917.

Manteca’s murals grace the pages of a 186-page art book published in 2009.

Kevin Bruce has compiled photos and text describing more than 250 murals found in 24 different California communities in the 186 pages of his book “Large Art in Small Places: Discovering the California Mural Towns.”

Ten Speed Press – acquired by Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer books – offered the full-color 10.5-inch by 7.25-inch paper book with flaps for $24.95.

The author divides the mural towns into six separate sections packaged so a day trip – or multiple day excursions – could be made with the routes he’s provided. There are also more detailed local maps showing exactly where you can find the murals in each community.

Manteca is the northern most point on the central Valley Mural Route that includes Kingsburg, Lemoore, Tulare, Exeter, Lindsay, and Porterville.

The Manteca section covers six pages and nine murals. The only one missing is perhaps the most striking mural of them all – “The Cruise” – that graces the northern facing wall of Accent Carpets in the 100 block of Main Street due to publication deadlines.

Each community is introduced with a brief history as well as where to go for more information. In Manteca’s case it is the mural society at

Manteca’s intro tells of the sandy plains and Manteca’s start as Cowell Station with a boxcar serving as the passenger and freight depot and how it ended up with its name through a railroad misprint of tickets.

It also briefly mentions the Manteca Mural Society noting it “is a true success” story as since inception in 2003 eight large scale murals have been completed plus a smaller kids’ mural. Since the book was published the number of murals has surpassed 30.

It also mentions that Manteca hosted the 2007 California Mural Society Symposium.

A listing of the murals and the brief comments Bruce provided are as follows:

• CROSSROADS (At Main & Yosemite): In 1918 the intersection of Main and Yosemite was the crossroads of the small farming community. On clear days like the one when this photo was taken, the blue sky of the mural blends into the real sky.

• SIERRA’S CROWN: (200 block of East Yosemite in front of Legion Hall): The centerpiece is Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, east of Manteca. The rocks in front of the mural mimic the painted rocks in the foreground providing a transition between reality and illusion.

• PUMPKIN HARVEST (100 block of North Main Street): Manteca is one of the largest pumpkin growing regions in the state.

• GOLDEN GATEWAY TO MANTECA (200 block of West Yosemite): The mural reflects the proximity of San Francisco to Manteca. As the area has grown, Manteca has in some ways becomes a suburb of the greater Bay Area and its ties to San Francisco have become more evident.

• SERVICE ABOVE SELF: (100 block of North Maple Avenue): Rotary International’s 100th anniversary prompted the creation of this mural.

• COW-MUNITY MURAL: (200 block of West Yosemite): Local volunteers created the mural over a weekend and there was plenty of reminiscing about dairy life.

• SUMMER VISION (Library Park): The mural provides a whimsical look at Manteca through the eyes of children.

• FREE-FOR-ALL (100 block of South Manteca): A weekend project painted by volunteers, the mural was sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club and includes some of its special projects: fishing derbies, reading programs, and the local pumpkin fair.

• OUR BOUNTIFUL VALLEY: (100 block of Sycamore Avenue): The mural recognizes the wealth of California’s Central Valley and those who have contributed to it.

The Manteca section also makes mention of other things to do: The Manteca Historical Society museum, Big League Dreams sports complex, Caswell Park, Tidewater Bike Path, and the Manteca Historical Walking Trail.

In an advance release promotion piece, Ten Speed Press noted that “Twenty-four quaint communities throughout the state highlight a canvas of walls that literally have taken the museum to the streets – capturing moments of local color, cultural significance, natural beauty, and imaginative whimsy in larger-than-life visual history (some as much as 100 feet in length).

That dovetails into the Manteca Mural Society’s mission of showcasing the local economy history, and culture.

The mural society project prompted the elaborate design of the interactive water fountain in Library Park that is essentially a take on the area’s history, farming, railroads, and natural resources.