March 21, 2023

“How to Fly” by artists Joey Koslik and Patrick Barwinski.

Like many cities, Riverside is no stranger to street art. Visitors to downtown Riverside can view colorful murals throughout the city.

Street art has been a part of our society since as early as the 1920s. Its prevalence began in New York City, where graffiti-style art could be found anywhere in front of the nearest empty wall to a passing train.

The free-spirited form of self-expression thrives in urban areas because of its heavy foot traffic and large population. The top cities in North America for street art include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Honolulu. While Riverside does not compare to the scale of these large cities, it still has its fair share of unique street art.

Charissa Graves | CBU Banner “Mariposa Alley” by artist Martin Sanchez.

The murals througout downtown Riverside add character to the streets.

“Seeing (Riverside street murals) brings me a lot of joy when I go to the downtown area,” said Emme Buhl, senior English major.

Street art often speaks out about topics for the entire community. Street art is the voice for those who need it.

Street art in Riverside is unique because of the people who create it. Not only are they making it, especially for Riverside, but their own flair also makes the streets of Riverside identifiable based on the art style.

“The art reflects Riverside’s population, cultural background and roots here,” Buhl said.

A favorite mural of Buhl’s is in the downtown area near the Main Library, seen from windows overlooking downtown Riverside.

“It just makes me happy to see it with all its bright colors, and I thought it represented unity,” Buhl said.

Many Riverside murals creatively incorporate the area and reflect the surrounding culture. One mural in particular depicts Riverside’s skyline. The painting features beautiful gradients of colors and butterflies.

Cities like Chicago represent culture in their street art differently. The art in Chicago reflects the community. One mural by Sam Kirk features members of the Latino and Black communities protesting for equality. It also shows a man selling paletas (Mexican popsicles), a kid playing with a fire hydrant, buildings, the metro and a basketball hoop.

Lauren Hayter, senior graphic design major, gives her take on what makes Riverside street art different from other cities.

“One thing I appreciated about the mural art that I got to observe in Riverside is the way it was often customized,” Hayter said.

Behind the scenes, photographer Jailyn Patrick, CBU alumnus who double majored in photography and intercultural studies with a focus on global justice, worked with a street artist local to Riverside. 

“I realized the importance of mural art to draw people together to take ownership of their communities,” Patrick said.

“The art in Riverside is special primarily because of the cultural diversity that exists here. It is easy to stay on campus and never immerse myself in what exists outside the gates of CBU. The art in Riverside engages those who walk and drive by to be drawn into the communities of Riverside.”

Riverside streets have a lot to offer and are different compared to larger cities. Take the time to visit the local murals, support local art and compare it to the surrounding areas. 

See what makes Riverside unique.

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