Commercial wall artists in past times were known as “Walldogs,” and while the need for wall ads may have diminished, the love of art has not.
Now Walldogs are talented sign/mural artists who create murals of humorous value or historical significance — and sometimes both.
In May 2006, dozens of Walldogs from around the United States and Canada gathered in Lodi to paint outdoor murals in celebration of the city’s centennial. The murals have become an ongoing project and are the focus of a walking tour around Downtown.
Whether you’re a visitor new to the area or you’re a longtime resident, the murals can offer some surprising glimpses into the history of the city.
Here’s a guide to the murals:
“The Tokay Carnival/Lodi Grape Festival” commemorates the Tokay Carnival, held only once, in 1907, to advertise Tokay grapes being planted throughout the area. In 1934, the annual Lodi Grape Festival resumed promotion of local grape production. Located at the intersection of Lodi Avenue and School Street.
“The Packing Shed” illustrates the hard work and strict conditions of fruit-packing, done in Lodi’s early years by women in heavy dresses in summer. Located along Walnut Street, between School and Church street.
“The Cucumis Club” showcases a Lodi literary and social society founded in 1896. The mural’s emphasis on watermelons honors one of early Lodi’s main crops. Located in the public parking lot on Church Street, between Oak and Walnut streets.
The “Chautauqua” mural recalls the Chautauqua movement, which brought adult education to rural America in the late 1800s and peaked in the early 1900s. Located near the intersection of Oak and Church streets.
The “Hutchins Street Square Community Center” mural, inspired by the artwork of ancient Pompeii, celebrates the many cultural influences of Hutchins Street Square on the Lodi community. The mural is located near the intersection of Church and Pine streets.
The “Farmers & Merchants Bank” mural commemorates the role of Farmers & Merchants Bank in the history of Lodi. The bank was founded in 1916 to provide financial services to local farmers. The bank’s second floor served as an emergency hospital in the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1919. The mural is located at the intersection of Elm and School streets.
In the self-referential “Breakfast of Walldogs,” a Walldog takes a break from painting a billboard. This mural features two longtime Lodi employers: General Mills and the Lodi News-Sentinel. Located in the alley on Elm Street, between Sacramento and School streets.
“Lodi, a Century Past” shows a series of painted photographs from 1906 Lodi. Located in the public parking lot on Elm Street, between Sacramento and School streets.
“Central California Traction Company,” painted in the Art Deco style of the 1930s, commemorates that central California railroad which was purchased in 1927 by several larger national lines. Located on the public parking lot on Pine and Sacramento streets.
“Japantown Memories” illustrates the rich and varied history of Lodi’s Japanese community. It shows the 1940 Lodi Templars baseball team. The mural is located on the Lodi Buddhist Church on Elm Street, between Main and Stockton streets. Don’t miss the paintings in the alley.
“Sacramento Street” honors the first merchants in the area, dating back to the 1860s. Located along Sacramento Street, between Walnut Street and Lodi Avenue.