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Artscene: Muralists enliven walls of new Menlo Park gallery

Brightly colored paintings spilled off of large canvases and onto the walls of a soon-to-open Art Ventures Gallery in downtown Menlo Park that was transformed into a painting studio for three days last week.

Gordon Studer, the gallery's artist liaison, said he and gallery owner Katharina Powers decided to invite 10 Bay Area street artists to the future gallery at 888 Santa Cruz Ave. and "let them go crazy."

The canvases the artists painted will be used in a future exhibition, but the walls will be painted over soon to prepare for the gallery's official opening on Feb. 1, which will show the paintings of Paton Miller. The artists were asked to develop a work that was related to the theme "provoke," and each responded in a different way.

Street artist Chor Boogie, who now lives in San Rafael, says the importance of his work lies in the eye of the beholder. He relies on color in particular to spark the emotions and imaginations of the viewers of his works. Different colors, he says, have different "healing attributes." He likes bright colors because they are an exciting contrast to the bland ones on some buildings, hospitals and jails, which he says keep people calm, docile and bland.

Bud Snow, who is originally from Vancouver but now lives in Oakland, took a personal approach, aiming to capture what felt important to her in the moment, whether political or familial or supernatural, she says. One image she uses she calls "idiot boy," which is a figure walking forward but looking back – a commentary on the cultural obsession with nostalgia, she says.

Nina Wright, who also goes by Girl Mobb, has worked on murals and exhibitions with Bud Snow. Her work showed a figure evocative of Botticelli's Venus, sitting atop an overturned police car on fire. She says that while she chose to repeat the motif because it had proven provocative elsewhere, it's not intended to be anti-police but is more a symbol of power, she says.

Lynnea Holland-Weiss, also an Oakland artist, painted a scene of several people postured as if they were looking down at their phones, but without the phones. What was left was the hunched, bizarre body language of people looking down with their hands clustered near their faces.

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