By Danielle Fodor
A painted river flows through the cracks in the pavement on G Street, taking back the urban environment and transforming it with water and green growth. A few blocks away, at E Street Plaza, kids skip and jump on a freshly painted rainbow of vegetables and plant foods.
Artists Alyx Land, Lupita Torres, and Anya McCann are bringing these two pavement paintings to life, literally painting the earth with vibrant murals in honor of Earth Day. They want to inspire people to take action in their daily decisions and with their voices to protect the earth.
WATER IS LIFE
Starting out a bright turquoise color, the painted river created by artists Alyx Land and Lupita Torres on G Street will slowly change over the next month, as the cracks in the asphalt fill with road debris, a mirror to the action of oil, pollutants and plastics filling up our waterways on a daily basis. The words “Water is Life” and “Mní Wičóni” are painted alongside an acknowledgement of the Wintun nation. Leaves and flowers growing out from the river.
“Water is Life” can be understood by all people,” explained Land. “Clean healthy water is crucial for every single person, and applies to so many different contexts related to protecting the earth, including oil pipelines, fracking, dammed-up rivers, and plastic pollution in the ocean. ”
“Mní Wičóni” means “Water is Life” in the Lakota language. This phrase has been used to raise awareness of the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at the Standing Rock Reservation, which started in 2016.
“Many people think the fight against DAPL is over, but it’s not!” stated Land. According to the website earthjustice.org, the DAPL pipeline currently is operating illegally, transporting 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day a half-mile up the Missouri River from the Standing Rock reservation.
The City of Davis’ own city council took a clear stance on this issue in 2017, when it joined cities around the world in divesting from Wells Fargo Bank and passing a resolution against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“Five years later and we are still battling this oil pipeline,” Torres shared. “The encampment at Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline was one of the most historic moments in this nation’s history — awakening the hearts and minds of all people across the globe. We need to ask President Biden to honor indigenous sovereignty and protect our water by shutting down DAPL.”
The temporary street painting can be found on G Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets, in downtown Davis.
EAT A RAINBOW
A few blocks away, alongside E Street Plaza, artist Anya McCann created a rainbow of leaves, words, fruits, and vegetables. The painting sits in the expanded plaza parking lot. McCann hopes that it will inspire visitors to eat more plants to “help keep the planet and their bodies healthier.”
“The number one greatest personal impact any individual can have to save the planet from the havoc of climate change is to eat more plant foods and less animal products. This is something that most people have control over — their diet.”
McCann is the founder of COOL Cuisine, a Davis organization that hosts meetups to advocate for more plant-based options in local restaurants so that all those who want to eat more plants have a selection of delicious food they can order when they go out.
“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, “as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.” (Source, The Guardian)
The mural is dedicated to McCann’s father, George S. Wolfberg, who died last year, because Earth Day was his birthday.
“He was a tireless advocate for the environment and he was my number one supporter in developing as an artist. He took me to outdoor art shows, galleries, and museums frequently throughout the years and encouraged me to try all sorts of artistic expression. To make his heart more healthy he changed his diet to a more whole-food plant-based diet after age 65 and had great success with it, reducing his cholesterol, heart plaque, and weight.”
She chose a bright, colorful, kid-friendly design to appeal to children. “Eating a rainbow each day is a simple way of ensuring you get a wide range of vitamins to stay healthy. A rainbow on your plate is also very appetizing! Plant-based food is not boring–look at the amazing range of foods, colors, and flavors represented in this mural.”
COOL Cuisine encourages folks to join an Earth Day action by participating in a plant-based challenge, such as: the inexpensive meal plans from Plant Based on a Budget (Sacramento-based) (https://plantbasedonabudget.com/), UCDavis Integrative Medicine Challenge (UCD) at https://pblife.org/, Kaiser Permanente (www.kphealthyme.com), or the Vegan Outreach (Davis-based) “10 Weeks to Vegan” (www.veganoutreach.org). These websites provide resources like recipes, meal plans, shopping lists, and nutrition education. More information and resources about plant-based eating can be found on the Cool Davis website at https://www.cooldavis.org/cool-solutions/plant-based-eating/.
The “Eat A Rainbow” temporary street painting can be found in the parking lot adjoining the E Street Plaza.
The murals will be at their best and brightest on Earth Day, April 22, and will slowly fade as the elements of rain, wind, and foot traffic wear them away.
The projects brought together artists from around the city, each sharing their own skills, including Candice Foster, Danielle Fodor, Drucella Miranda, Jenn Nachmanoff, and Judy Catambay.
This project, part of the Community ArtShare for the Earth (and All Her Creatures) is supported, in part, by a generous grant from the City of Davis Arts and Cultural Affairs program. Helping hands were provided by the Sierra Club, the Davis Food Co-op, Cool Cuisine, Cool Davis, the Davis Arts Center, Mothers Out Front, Climate Strike Davis, the Sunrise Movement, the DSIS Eco Club, and the Da Vinci High School Environmental Club. Thanks everyone!!