Colorful mural takes shape in downtown Petaluma

  • A mural covering the entire western wall of the Phoenix Theater is in the works by artist Ricky Watts in Petaluma on Friday, March 29, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

A splash of cosmic color has come to downtown Petaluma.

With bold waves of blue, purple, red, orange, green and more, local artist Ricky Watts is transforming the southern wall of the Phoenix Theater into a huge outdoor art exhibit.

Watts describes the mural's abstract style as "space rainbows," with fluid shapes and colors that intertwine.

Phoenix Theater's New Mural


Work — all done with spray paint — is almost complete. Watts hopes to finish by the middle of next week.

The massive painting grew from the planning of the Cosmic Terrain art exhibition, which opens April 13 at the Petaluma Arts Center. Curator Scott Hess gathered Bay Area surreal landscape artists Mario Mars-1, Oliver Vernon, Damon Soule and Watts for the show.

"It quickly became apparent that the other three artists' works were going to take up the entire arts center," Watts said this week while on a painting break. "Rather than me showing canvas paintings, (Hess) said let's try to find a wall around town to showcase your work."

The Phoenix Theater wall was a perfect fit.

Watts, 32, grew up in Petaluma and often hung out at the theater, a hotspot for youths to gather, socialize and listen to live music.

The mural is a way to give back to the theater, which Watts said was there for him when he was "a wide-eyed mischievous teenager" spray painting graffiti. He later went to the Art Institute of California in San Diego and earned a degree in graphic design.

"The mural is something I've been dreaming of since I was a teenager hanging out at the Phoenix," he said. "It's been on my mind for probably 20 years."

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