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Artist Puts Santa Clara’s Uniqueness on Display

There has been much buzz lately about the murals being painted at the Merry Mart Uniforms store on the corner of Washington and Newhall streets in Santa Clara, and what began as a single mural by artist Jason Guastucci has turned into multiple compositions that not only extend behind the building, but into the store itself.

According to store manager Janine Barber, the idea arose when Merry Mart management was thinking of ways to spruce up the building’s exterior. Someone came up with the idea of a mural and–upon receiving approval to complete the facelift from the building landlord, Gillmor and Associates–a friend of a friend introduced the family-owned business to Guastucci.

“It’s been some years since we did any significant remodeling inside or out, and it was time to start updating the store,” said Barber. “The murals are just the most visible part of the remodel so far. We plan to be here for many years to come and wanted something tangible to show our commitment to our customers and our City.”

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Of Guastucci’s multiple murals, the “Santa Clara” painting on Newhall St. has garnered the most attention. With the building’s location on the border of Santa Clara and San Jose, the large image of the Santa Clara Mission painted above the words “Santa Clara” superimposed with people partaking in activities residents enjoy welcomes visitors to the Mission City.

Wrapping around the side of the building, Guastucci has painted a summertime mural with children playing in front of a schoolhouse. Guastucci’s work is also prominent inside the store and customers who walk through the back entrances are transported into either an under-the-sea adventure or scene of children frolicking on a playground.

“It’s a treat to come in the next day and see a new ocean creature appear or child playing on a swing that wasn’t there the day before,” said Barber. “I never know what I’ll see from one day to the next … And, customers are really surprised when they walk in the store and realize they’re under the sea looking at an octopus or standing in the middle of a playground surrounded by children [depending on which door they enter].”

The concept for the subject of each mural has developed from collaboration between Merry Mart and Guastucci, and Barber said the artist has been able to translate their “random thoughts” and translate them into “awesome art.”

“I see people from around town and they all want to know about the mural,” said Barber. “We’ve had customers drive by routinely to check on the progress. The two ‘You Know You’re From Santa Clara When’ Facebook groups generated a lot of excitement from the first drop of paint going up on the wall.”

Barber said painting began in March with the plan for it to conclude within the next couple of weeks; however, she noted that there may be more murals in store for Merry Mart.

“You never know what someone might think of next,” she said. “We still have some blank wall space left … The murals may not be ‘done’ until we pry the paintbrush out of his hand or he runs out of paint.”

Merry Mart Uniforms has served the families in Santa Clara since 1946. Visit the murals at 33 Washington St.

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