Downtown Davis boasts first interactive transmedia art walk in world

Wandering into downtown Davis, many notice the many murals on the sides of buildings or sculptures on corners. Downtown Davis possesses the first interactive transmedia art walk in the world.

The downtown Davis area has at least 40 works of art. Many of these works have a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip, which allows the viewer to watch a video of the work’s creation on their smartphone and leave a message for the artist.

“We have the first interactive transmedia art walk in the world,” said John Natsoulas, owner of the Natsoulas Gallery and a member of the Davis Mural Team. “The technology was patented by my old friend and partner Monto Kumagai and his company

XtremeSignPost. He’s working on another transmedia art walk in San Francisco right now.”
Despite the large amount of art, many of the works were created in 2012. In fact, Natsoulas claimed that there were only “three or four” pieces downtown in 2011.

Natsoulas formed the Davis Mural Team, which received a grant from the city and the cooperation of building owners.

“In 2012, I accomplished the unaccomplishable and got art throughout the town, which really transformed it,” Natsoulas said.
The first mural placed by the Mural Team is “It Can Happen NOW…TO YOU” by member William Haul. Haul said that the Mural Team completed 11 or 12 murals during the summer of 2012.

“Each artist was given a site and chose their own image to do. We cooperated with each other and got to the point where all we needed was a weekend to finish a mural,” Haul said.

This summer, Haul and two other members of the mural team, Kerry Rowland-Averch and Myron Stevens, were commissioned by the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge to do a giant mural on the side of that building, located on Second Street between C and D streets.

Dody Black, the marketing director for the Odd Fellows Lodge, and Dave Rosenberg, the Grand Warden, commissioned the mural.

“Dave and I noticed the murals going up around town but the Mural Team’s grant from the city ran out before we could commission the mural,” Black said. “In the end, Dave donated the money for the mural.”

The final mural consists of three panels: the left panel depicts the farmers market, the middle panel depicts the now-demolished Davis Archway and the right panel shows a family cycling in front of the Odd Fellows Lodge.
Haul found this mural to be more challenging than usual.

“There were [fewer] of us working on this mural and it was four or five times larger than anything we’ve ever done,” Haul said. “It took us three weeks of painting every day during long, hot days.”

Haul and Natsoulas both noticed that artists unaffiliated with the Mural Team would create murals and sculptures, such as the Compassion Bench on the corner of Third St. and C St. and the mural behind the Pence Gallery.

“I’ve been surrounded by the best people in the world,” Natsoulas said. “I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to work with these people and I feel fortunate. It’s been a great journey.”

The Davis Art Walk map is available at the Natsoulas Gallery at 521 First St., the Yolo County Visitor’s Center at 123 E St. and online at davisartwalk.com.

JOHN KESLER can be reached at art@theaggie.org.

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