Fine art, from a can

Anthony Padilla

Photo By Larry Dalton

It’s been almost two years since the Sacramento Midtown Murals Project last graced our public space. After creating four murals in five years, the project faltered during the big letdowns of 2001 and 2002, when the dot-com bust and 9/11 left potential donors feeling not so generous. Although fund-raising for the next mural still lags behind years past, organizers hope to begin work on another wall this spring. This time, they have tapped 26-year-old spray-painter, musician and comic-book artist Anthony Padilla (, so far the youngest and edgiest of Midtown’s muralists. To donate to the project or find out more, visit

Tell us about the mural you’re going to do this spring.

The theme is 50 years of music in the Sacramento region. It will have figures that will show everything from Brazilian music to hip-hop to country western. It represents the evolution of music generally as well as all the kinds of music you can hear in Sacramento today. Really, what we are trying to capture is what music would look like if you could see it. It’s hard to explain, but there will be lots of repetition of color and pattern, lots of rhythmic pulses of color that you will be able to trace throughout the piece. I know the color is just going to be awesome. You can see an example panel of it at Art Ellis on J Street.

You’re also involved in publishing a number of comic books.

Yeah, they are all put out by Flagrant Comics. You can get all of these at Empire Comics on Arden Way. There’s Sideshow; it’s basically an anthology of different artists. Then there is Liquor Man, which I do the coloring on. Liquor Man is about this guy who gets drunk and thinks he has superpowers, but he doesn’t. He’s just drunk. We’re planning a low-budget B-movie of Liquor Man pretty soon. And we’ve got a guy who dresses up like Liquor Man at the comic-book conventions. But his beer belly is actually bigger than Liquor Man’s. In San Diego, he got drunk to get into the part. He was so drunk that he started telling these kids to punch him in the stomach. He woke up with a bunch of big bruises, but he was drumming up crazy business for us.

And you will be publishing your own comic soon?

It’s called The Electrick 7. It’s kind of like a blend of Star Trek and hip-hop culture. I’ve been working on the characters for about two years. There’s Gyro, the break-dancing robot; Ample Macintosh—she’s a break dancer, too. This is DJ Force, who has four arms. He’s blind, but he feels his way around from the vibrations in his dreadlocks. He’s an alien, so when he smokes weed, the smoke comes out these nostrils in his forehead.

Your dream is to paint a really, really big comic book.

I want to find a city that will give me the space to do a comic book on the streets. You know, page 1 would be on a wall on one corner; page 2 would be on another wall a few blocks away. Each page would be something like 17 feet tall, and, as you walked through the city, you would be able to read the whole comic. That’s my ultimate goal right now. It’s a ways off, but I think that would be really fun. As far as I know, nobody has done that.

You work exclusively in spray paint?

Yeah, I try to keep it all just the spray can. I don’t even really tape things off or manipulate things. It’s just from the can and onto the canvas. It’s how I learned to paint, doing graffiti. Spray paint is the best if you want to cover a large area. Plus, spray paint is still new, you know? Did they have spray paint when you were a kid?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure they did. Now, you got in a little trouble when you were younger …

I basically learned how to paint by doing illegal stuff—painting trains and stuff. Then, I found out I could make a living at it. I got busted a while back and lost a lot of money on lawyers and legal fees. I learned my lesson. I don’t do the illegal stuff anymore.

You want to plug your next show?

It’s December 27 at Club Fantasy. That’s a strip club [laughs]. They are going to have art and a fashion show.

What kind of fashion show?

I’m not sure about that.