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Equality Mural Project celebrates diversity, brightens up Downtown Atascadero

Rachel Showalter, KCBX
Isaac Yorke stands in front of his mural in Atascadero

A second mural was unveiled this weekend in Atascadero as a part of the Equality Mural Project.

Zoe Zappas started the Equality Mural Project two years ago with the goal of adding 10 murals to Downtown Atascadero that all depict different aspects of equality.

Zappas said the culture of Atascadero has been shifting, with new businesses and younger families. She said she hopes these public murals will get a conversation going about the importance of making space for everyone.

“I find art important and especially public art that everyone is faced with [and] has to grapple with,” Zappas said. “I love this concept of ‘Here’s a topic. It’s displayed in a somewhat covert manner. Try to figure it out and try to piece it together.’ I think it moves the narrative forward a little bit. I just want to be able to offer a different perspective.”

Credit Rachel Showalter, KCBX

Issac Yorke is one of the muralists involved with the project. He finished his design last week and unveiled it on Saturday. It’s painted on the side of the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store.

Yorke’s mural is called ‘Block Party’ and it depicts a variety of Japanese wooden balancing stones known as Tumi Ishi blocks.

“They’re a Japanese generational toy,” Yorke said. “All of which are hand shaped and unique in their own ways — whether it be different sizes, different shapes, different wood grain, different colors.”

He said the goal for his piece was to highlight the benefits and beauty of diversity.

“My thought was — just like how all these blocks are really diverse — so are our communities,” Yorke said. “And the fact that they’re this beautiful stacking block, reminded me of the fact that we all come together to form these bigger, better structures.”

Credit Rachel Showalter, KCBX

Yorke said it took him just under two weeks of evening painting to get the mural done and he was really welcomed and supported by the community. Yorke said he hopes his mural will inspire people to ask questions and learn more about equality and equity in general.

Zappas said these murals are also a way to bring a buzz to downtown and help boost business. The owner of the Bru Coffeehouse building in Atascadero offered a wall for the first mural in the project. Zappas said the owner of Bru has already seen more customers coming in who are stopping to look at the mural.

Eight more mural installations are expected to make their way into Downtown Atascadero over the next couple of years.

Zappas said they are still fundraising and looking for available walls for the remaining murals. To find out more about the Equality Mural Project, click here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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