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Fred Ball Mural

The restoration of a monumental mural by Fred Ball was completed in July, 2014.  The enamel plates were removed, cleaned, restored, and have now been re-installed. Fred Ball Mural restoration

The highly acclaimed mural, located at 3rd and L Streets, faces I-5 and the Tower Bridge, can be viewed from Interstate 5 and many of the nearby high-rise buildings.  Arranged in four horizontal sections, each 6-feet high, by 62-feet wide, the row after row of enameled plates create a quilt-like landscape of colors.  Ball intended his mural to be an interpretation of aerial views of the Sacramento River Delta, with winding river tributaries and cropland patterns combined with cityscapes.  The colors reflect seasonal changes, and while retaining their basic color values, the enamels reflect the environmental light, changing constantly with the passage of clouds, sun overhead, or the angle from which they were viewed.  Fred Ball’s hope was that the mural’s images would remind viewers of the ongoing joy of life.

Fred Ball mural

In 1977 Fred Ball was commissioned by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) through the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC) to create a mural for the facade of the Downtown Plaza West parking garage. One of the largest enamel murals in the world at the time, it took Fred Ball 3 years to complete the commission that consisted of 1,488 one-foot square, vitreous enamel plates.  He installed the mural in October of 1980.  Over 32 years, moisture and exposure to the extreme variation in Sacramento’s temperatures took a toll on the mural. The mural had undergone a restoration in the 1990's, and in June 2012, SMAC began its second restoration. The enamel plates were removed, cleaned, restored, and reinstalled.  

Fred Uhl Ball, renowned international artist, was considered to be one of the top artists in his field when he passed away in 1985 at age 40. His mural, “The Way Home” has become a beloved Sacramento landmark and was one of the first public artworks to be commissioned by the City of Sacramento under the percent for art ordinance.  According to Shelly Willis, Executive Director for SMAC, “The artist’s reputation, the quality of the art, and the historic significance, all play a role in why it is so vital to restore this important mural.”

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