Art captures the vibrancy of downtown and will draw people to the district

By Suman Ganapathy

Suman Ganapathy

Our city has been quick to adapt to the changing times with proactive economic resiliency and recovery plans to help our community weather the COVID-19 pandemic. The Morgan Hill Place-Branding Small Grants Program is one such creative public-private partnership devised by the city to help local small businesses, stimulate our economy, and also engage and uplift the community by creating welcoming, artistic and eye-catching place-branding art and improvements visible from the public right-of-way.

The first three grant recipients are already poised to enhance, invigorate, and beautify our city, with many more projects on their way.

Morgan Hill Downtown Association member, MOHI Farm at Granada Theatre was the first to finish their project, installing a green wall and planter boxes to beautify their outdoor seating area, and neon signage to promote MOHI Farm restaurant, designed by Deluxe Design Decor. The planter boxes will feature fresh vegetables to tie in the farm-to-table inspiration, promoting a healthy lifestyle. In a spirit of collaboration with other restaurants such as Craft Roots and Prova, they have also brought beautiful Manzanillo Olive Trees all over downtown Morgan Hill to enhance the overall aesthetics and ambience downtown.

Another MHDA member grant recipient is Craft Roots, a downtown locally-owned, family-friendly restaurant with a 100 percent plant-based menu. They plan to expand the outdoor dining experience by creating an al fresco waiting/dining area, along with a complementary art mural by one of Morgan Hill’s leading artists and community advocates, Doug Wright (Wright Works), who will also design and build the area.

The mural will showcase the history of our region, the “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” express our community’s resilience, and highlight local healthy eating choices. Characteristically eloquent, owner Nick Gaich said, “It is such a privilege to be part of this opportunity to think beyond stabilization at a time of crisis. Thinking strategically again and planning for the future instead of just the day-to-day struggle for survival has brought light during a tough time.”

MHDA is proud to be part of the third and innovative place-branding project, consisting of 30 artistic painted squares on the sidewalks of high-foot areas all across the city, four-feet by five-feet each, professionally designed and painted by Morgan Hill resident, artist Nacho Moya, owner of Moya Art Gallery in Gilroy.

The 30 squares are divided among members of a collaboration put together by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, in financial partnerships with the Morgan Hill Downtown Association, Visit Morgan Hill, Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, and MH Community Foundation. The artwork is slated to be downtown, the Cochrane/Tennant area, Safeway/Home Depot area, 88 Keys area on Dunne, and My Pizza area on Main and Hale avenues, covering many areas in Morgan Hill.

MHDA’s seven squares or MHDA Streetscapes will be located downtown, each one featuring painted artistic 3-D maps pointing to retail establishments, salons and restaurants from a different area downtown, with the number of steps/time taken to walk there.

In addition, enticing coupons, valid for a year, will be given at downtown establishments. “The art captures the vibrancy of downtown and will draw people. The coupons will encourage people to buy local. Now, more than ever, is the time to support downtown,” said MHDA board member, Kerry Wallace, leader of the MHDA streetscape design team.

Suman Ganapathy is a MHDA board member. She is also a Leadership Morgan Hill Class of 2018 alumnus, President-Elect AAUW, volunteers with the San Jose Museum of Art, and a Morgan Hill Library, Culture and Arts Commissioner.


Guest Column