Clean CA Gateway & Murals

CalTrans Clean California Initiative: Gateway and Mural Project

The Mariposa Arts Council and the County Planning Department invite the public to review and share feedback on initial concepts for Mariposa County’s Caltrans’ Clean California public art project. Located in the town of Mariposa, this project entails two gateway features located at the southern and northern intersections of Highway 140 and Highway 49 and two murals. 

The proposed gateway features and murals will explore Mariposa’s native ecological systems and the connection between people and place.


The project team is looking for input on preliminary design concepts for the gateway features and murals, which will be incredibly helpful as these ideas are refined and revised over the next several months. To facilitate public stakeholder engagement, between January 18 and February 17, 2023, the Arts Council has developed a variety of in-person and online opportunities for people to submit feedback. You can:


Stakeholder Engagement Events

Visit the Arts Council or Mariposa Public Library, between January 18 and February 17, 2023,  at your convenience:

  • Stop by the Arts Council where preliminary draft concepts and explanatory text will be on physical display. The public is encouraged to visit the Arts Council to talk with staff about the project and provide in-person feedback. The Arts Council is open Monday-Friday from 10am-4pm and is located at 5009 Highway 140, above Chocolate Soup. 
  • Stop by the Mariposa Public Library – where preliminary draft concepts and explanatory text will be on physical display. Library staff will be available to talk about the project on Thursday afternoons. The Library is open Tuesday-Thursday from 9am-7pm and Friday-Monday from 9am-4pm and is located at 4978 10th St. 

Stop by one of our pop-up events happening in downtown Mariposa (near the sites for the gateway features and murals) and talk with Arts Council staff about the project and offer in-person feedback.

  • Sticks Coffee (4993 7th Street) – Saturday, February 4, 9:00-11:30 AM
  • Pioneer Market (5034 Coakley Circle) – Saturday, February 4, 1-4 PM
  • The Grove House (4993 5th Street) – Thursday, February 2, 5-7 PM
  • The Alley (5027 Highway 140) – Tuesday, February 7, 5-7 PM

Attend special programming with opportunities for in depth discussion of this project by Arts Council staff.

  • Miwumati Healing Center – January 25 from 11am-4pm (specific for tribal stakeholder engagement)
  • Mariposa County Library (4978 10th Street)  – Special presentation on February 9 at 5:30 PM.

Explore Gateway & Mural Concepts

Note: the preliminary design concepts for review are NOT the final designs and these renderings contain only placeholder imagery. The design team humbly offers these draft concepts to the public as a starting place for robust feedback. However, while these concepts are very much preliminary drafts, much research and intention has gone into the ideas behind them and they represent significant ecological systems and cultural elements present here in Mariposa. Please carefully consider and explore the themes and stories being artistically expressed in these design concepts prior to providing feedback. 

As recommended by the Mariposa County Creative Placemaking Strategy, each of the preliminary concepts shown in this online survey examines unique facets of the county’s native ecological systems and the connections between people and place. Please review these concepts thoroughly before you submit feedback online.

Concept 1

The stunning feather pattern of the Northern Flicker serves as the inspiration for Concept 1. The Northern Flicker is a woodpecker and one of the only animals in the region who create homes for other non-drilling species of birds and mammals. They have an important ecological role in helping to control populations of insects and pests for better tree health. The Southern Sierra Miwuk connects to, recognizes and celebrates the critical role of the Northern Flicker by incorporating Flicker feathers into traditional ceremonial headbands. A representation of both being caretakers of the landscape. 

The site of the northern gateway allows for both vehicular and pedestrian engagement. In order to maximize the advantages of both transportation modalites, this site will explore the intricate feather pattern of the Northern Flicker in an installation that changes and resolves as the view moves past as a pedestrian or in a vehicle, recalling the flash of the bird’s wings. The southern gateway site only allows for vehicular engagement and requires a more simple design, easily and safely viewed and understood by individuals quickly passing in cars. Both gateway features welcome people to Mariposa in the Miwuk language. Micheksesee is a Miwuk greeting, this language will be amended and solidified with the Miwuk language keepers support. 

Mural Site 1 will be designed to be in direct dialogue with the southern gateway feature offering those driving by an opportunity to easily see the detailed pattern and action of the Northern Flickers feathers in another medium and context. The mural will be accentuated with, indigenous plants and animals who call the native ecosystem home. On the western portion of the wall the Miwuk word for home, “uuchum” speaks to the importance of place and belonging for all living things. The final design will use Miwuk symbols and designs for the letter pattern.  Mural Site 2 continues to explore the patterns and significance of the Northern Flicker and welcomes the Black Bear as it emerges from its winter hibernation. Simple silhouettes will support the Bear and Flicker features to create a lush spring habitat scene. The triangular area over the bear will use Miwuk symbols and designed used in Mural Site 1.

Concept 2A

Concept 2A: Clapper Sticks

Remember that you can view in full-screen, pause, rewind, fast forward through the slide show if you need to!

The connection of traditional lifeways and local ecologies, and the ties between them provide the inspiration for both Concepts 2A and 2B gateway features and murals.

The joy of gathering with community, music-making, and ceremony is evoked by a collection of oversized Miwuk clapsticks. The percussive instruments mark a celebratory entrance into the town of Mariposa, and the use of naturally sourced materials honors Miwuk cultural arts. Signage on the gateway retaining walls recognizes that people are entering the ancestral and current home of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation, the indigenous stewards of this land.

Concept 2B

Concept 2B: Acorn Granaries

Remember that you can view in full-screen, pause, rewind, fast forward through the slide show if you need to!

The connection of traditional lifeways and local ecologies, and the ties between them provide the inspiration for both Concepts 2A and 2B gateway features and murals.

Gateway Features

A field of wood columns, each revealing a slot filled with brightly colored acorns, references the practice of storing acorns as a food source in cylindrical wooden granaries. This traditional practice of the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation is echoed by native acorn caching birds. 

Concept 2 Murals

Concept 2 Murals: Clapper Sticks + Acorn Granaries

Remember that you can view in full-screen, pause, rewind, fast forward through the slide show if you need to!

These murals respond to themes addressed in Concept 2A and 2B.

The ecological and cultural significance of the acorn is examined in Mural Site 1 with illustrations of several varieties of indigenous oak acorns accompanied by native animals reliant on oaks for a food source or shelter. Depicted are Blue Oak and a Northern Flicker, Coast Live Oak with a California Sister Butterfly and Valley Oak with a Western Fence Lizard (species may change). Nodding to the importance of the acorn as a first food for the Southern Miwuk, traditional Miwuk basket patterns frame the acorns and animals, speaking to the critical connection between people and place. Again the Miwuk word for home, “uuchum,” is situated on the western portion of the wall signifying the importance of belonging, comfort and security for all living things. Mural Site 2 features illustrations with the basketry patterns depicting acorns as well as important plants. Each plant each has an insect interaction. Depicted placeholders from left to right: Blue Oak Acorn; Yarrow with hover fly; Coast Live Oak Acorn; Sticky Monkey with bee; Bee Plant with bee; heckerbloom with Painted Lady Butterfly; Pearly Everlasting with American Lady Butterfly; The triangular area over the bear will use Miwuk symbols and designs used in Mural Site 1.


Project Details

Projects are slated for installation in the town area of Mariposa County. View the identified site locations in the slide show below. 

Remember that you can view in full-screen, pause, rewind, fast forward through the slide show if you need to!

This project implements the recommendations of the Mariposa County Creative Placemaking Strategy. That plan, adopted by the Board of Supervisors in August 2021, relied on extensive stakeholder engagement to develop a vision for creative placemaking investments like this one.

The planning effort revealed that Mariposans want to see more art that explores the county’s native ecological systems and the connections between people and place. To that end, each of the preliminary concepts shown reflect some of the ways that Mariposans have engaged, connected with, and relied on plants, animals, and landscapes that are so important to the identity and sense of place of our community.

Significantly, the Creative Placemaking Strategy recommends a program of coordinated murals and gateway elements, located throughout the county and engaging with similar themes. In other words, the mural and gateway feature projects shown in this survey represent just the first of many similar projects that the County anticipates pursuing in the future. As you are reviewing the preliminary concepts, we recommend approaching these as the beginning of a larger project.

CalTran’s Clean California Initiative provides funds to clean and beautify public spaces in underserved communities by providing financial support to local and regional public agencies, transit agencies, tribal governments and nonprofit organizations.

The Mariposa County Planning Department is the funding recipient and the lead for this project. 

Mariposa County has engaged Atlas Lab Inc., a landscape architecture, urban design and public art practice firm who have previously worked with both the County and the Arts Council to develop the County’s Creative Placemaking Strategy. Atlas Lab will be designing the gateway features and managing the project’s team and timeline. 

Ink Dwell Studio, a renowned studio located in Half Moon Bay known for its murals that explore the beauty and complexity of nature, has been hired to develop and install the murals. 

Engineering firm Provost and Pritchard will oversee the project’s technical aspects, including issues associated with highway safety and permitting.

The Mariposa Arts Council (that’s us!) is facilitating stakeholder engagement and relaying community feedback to project partners.