armando franco 6th street studios and art center downtown gilroy
Armando Franco describes the mural he painted alongside a group of young artists at 6th Street Studios and Art Center in downtown Gilroy. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

A group of Gilroy artists unveiled their new mural April 15 on the side of 6th Street Studios and Art Center downtown, a work that represents the past, present and future of the Santa Clara Valley city.

Armando Franco led the work, and he was joined by local students Earl “EJ” McDonald-Luna, Brody Davis, Topazio Silva Rodriguez and Zafiro Silva Rodriguez as the mural was completed in a matter of weeks.

In 2021, SV Creates solicited submissions for the mural, which was sponsored by Blue Shield. The theme of the mural is, ”What does a Healthy Gilroy Mean to You?” 

6th Street Studios founder Emily McEwan-Upright said she was thrilled to have the mural on the building at 64 West Sixth St., as it fits the organization’s mission perfectly.

“This project is really special to me, because the whole goal of this space is to make art accessible to everyone,” she said.

The images in the mural are centered in downtown Gilroy, which Franco said represents revitalization. 

Showcasing the past is a representation of Casey Tibbs and horse Warpaint, an iconic statue that once adorned the Hall’s building at the corner of Sixth and Monterey streets.

A large circus tree from Gilroy Gardens stands near the center, while a DeLorean vehicle from the “Back to the Future” flicks is shown hovering near Old City Hall.

Zafiro Silva Rodriguez Earl “EJ” McDonald-Luna Brody Davis 6th street studios and art center downtown gilroy
Zafiro Silva Rodriguez (from left), Earl “EJ” McDonald-Luna and Brody Davis were among the artists of the project. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Sprinkled throughout the mural are seeds and holes in a garden, which Franco said is a central theme for the mural.

“It’s about planting seeds,” he said. “What kind of seeds are we planting now for our future? That’s what the message is for everyone in the community. Think about what actions we’re doing and what kind of seeds we are planting for our community.”

Franco said the artists used images that encompass all generations, including veterans, young people, seniors and the family-friendly Gilroy Gardens. The DeLorean, he noted, is something that all generations can relate to.

“I hope this mural not only inspires everyone to be conscious of what we’re doing today for our community, but also to promote the arts,” Franco said. “There’s so much vibrancy, so much potential in our community.”

The ribbon cutting event, which took place during 6th Street Studios’ monthly Third Friday Art Walk, also included some words by City Councilmembers Zach Hilton and Carol Marques and representatives of SV Creates and Blue Shield.

Hilton said providing opportunities for young people such as the mural project is important for the city’s future, as 38% of Gilroy’s population is 24 years old or younger.

“Today we are here to unveil a mural by Armando Franco and his Gilroy youth cohort that represents the voice of the Gilroy youth and reflects a vision for a healthy Gilroy community, while recognizing its diversity,” he said. “We need youth representation in all parts of our community, including government decisions.”

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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