The new mural on the Hallen Drive basketball court in Valley West | Photos: Stephanie McGeary

There’s a new mural in Valley West and it’s not on a wall, placed there only for you to gaze at it. It is on the ground, and you’re even allowed to step on it. Actually, you’re suppose to play basketball on it! 

That’s right. The basketball court on Hallen Drive in Valley West just got some fresh paint – a colorful, abstract mural painted across the entire court. The mural was created by the REBOUND project – a DreamMaker project of the Ink People Center for the Arts, dedicated to transforming basketball courts (and other surfaces) into colorful works of art. 

Benjamin Funke, founder of REBOUND, told the Outpost that 10 paid volunteers helped paint the court, starting on Monday afternoon and finishing up on Thursday. Funke said the most difficult part of the work was priming the 4,500 square foot court, which took 33 gallons of primer to cover. “It was about double what we had anticipated,” Funke said. 

But once the primer was dry, the rest of the painting went smoothly and quickly and Funke was pretty surprised that the crew was done by 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. Everyone who worked on the project was having a great time, Funke said, and the community response was really positive, with many people stopping by to express their excitement for the mural.  

“A lot of people from Valley West came up and were extremely appreciative of what we were bringing to the community,” Funke said. “I mean, we took a piece of black asphalt and turned it into this colorful mural, vibrating with dynamism. It’s so different from what was there a week ago.” 

The murals (created by volunteers led by local muralist Ben Goulart) and picnic table recently added to Valley West Park

The project is one of several recent upgrades to the Valley West neighborhood – including the addition of fruit trees, more murals and a picnic table to Valley West Park (across the street from the basketball court), free dance and theater classes and outdoor events – funded by $15,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, allocated by the City of Arcata. The community group Comunidad Unidad del Norte de Arcata (CUNA) has been partnering with the City to spruce up Valley West, organizing projects and gathering neighborhood feedback to see what Valley West residents want improved. The basketball court mural was one of eight community improvement projects selected by residents during a public vote organized by CUNA

This is the second basketball court mural that REBOUND has painted in Arcata. Last year the nonprofit worked with the City to paint the court at Shay Park near Foster and Alliance, and the group is also responsible for the Blake Reagan mural on the retaining wall behind Café Brio. Like with the Shay Park court, REBOUND used the funding to cover the cost of paint and other materials and to compensate the painters, and the City of Arcata will take care of maintenance of the mural. 

On Friday afternoon, two workers from the City of Arcata Parks and Recreation Department were finishing up the Valley West court by adding two coats of waterproof sealant to protect the mural. The sealant has some grit to it, to help prevent people from slipping on it. The workers said that, depending on the weather, the sealant generally takes about two days to dry and the court should be open to the public after this weekend. 

City staff adding sealant to the court

Funke was really excited that REBOUND was selected for this project and is looking forward to completing many more murals in the future. He added that the nonprofit is always looking for new projects and for donations, so make sure to visit their website to find out how you can help. 

Funke also wanted to add that he is thrilled with the efforts of the City of Arcata and CUNA to breathe some new life into Valley West, a neighborhood that he thinks is actually pretty great. 

“I feel like the vibe in Valley West is very positive,” Funke said. “Spending consecutive days there and walking around the community, I feel like maybe it’s misrepresented. There’s a really good feeling about being a part of beautifying Valley West and I’m really happy we were able to contribute something beautiful and meaningful.”

Closeup of murals in Valley West Park