It’s hard not to notice this John Pugh mural if you spend any time in downtown Chico. Located on the corner of 1st Street and Broadway (on Taylor Hall, which houses the University Art Gallery), it was Pugh’s first mural, painted in 1980-81 when he was a CSUC student.
Pugh went on to create more than 200 large-scale “trompe l’oei” (“trick of the eye”) murals across the United States, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
Rather than simply paint a realistic-looking series of columns, Pugh was influenced by a dream to “break open” the wall on Taylor and “fill this fictive space with relevant narrative creations — intended to engage the viewer on deeper levels.”
The fate of this well-loved mural (also known as “Academe”) currently hangs in the balance as plans to demolish the building are underway. There has been much debate about preserving the mural, whether in its current location (can’t we just keep THAT wall?) or elsewhere on campus. I will post an update on the status when I can.
I feel honored to live in a place that has been named one of America’s “Best Art Towns*,” and I think Mr. Pugh’s artwork has much to do with that distinction! (Check out these photos of Pugh’s murals.)
* Author John Villani named Chico #10 in his book The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America!