Lupines, Butterflies, And Community: A Palette For Affordable Housing

Hi love!
I recently wrapped up my tallest mural to date at Solaire Apartments, 130 living spaces built for households that are in threat of being priced out of the housing market, but are essential to a strong and diverse community, including the lower-income workforce, and individuals and families who have experienced homelessness in the past. Solaire Apartments will reserve half of its units as permanent supportive housing to address the homelessness crisis in the County of Santa Clara.

I was a little bit nervous on the ladder climbing to the last scaffolding tier, but the mural would just not have been as beautiful if it was only three stories tall.

Auzerais full 4 stories
Auzerais Courtyard Mural; 425 Auzerais in San Jose
Auzerais collage

About 24 units will look out directly onto the artwork. We wanted the mural to feel modern, to match the architecture of the building but I also wanted it to feel alive, so I painted the Lupine flower and Mission Blue butterfly in a realistic style. Hopefully, the residents looking out the window can imagine the stalk swaying in the wind or get a glimpse of the gentle flapping of the butterfly wings out of the corner of their eye. The yellow rays of the sun branch out to invite new directions into life.

Auzerais other view

Eden Housing was the developer for Auzerais, and they were referred to my work from Alta Housing. Last Fall, I painted a mural of a manzanita and crested titmouse on Alta Housing’s new 58-unit apartment building on Wilton Court in Palo Alto.

I continued the same theme from the main mural onto a structural column in their lobby, adding gold accents for lobby bling.

Eden housing lobby
bird detail

When I painted the utility box a few months later, I thought, Why not! Let’s keep going with the gold. This might be the first gold-leafed utility box ever. This is Palo Alto, after all.
Wilton Court prioritizes its apartments for individuals who work in Palo Alto with a developmental disability. Neurodiversity is a beautiful thing! I got to know the residents through another project at Alta Court, a collaboration with the new residents at Wilton Court. Alta Housing wanted the new building to feel more like a home, celebrate the diversity of the residents, and build community at the same time. So over the course of two different events in June, the residents were invited to paint butterflies over a mural I painted. The mural was on a long wall that leads out to a rooftop terrace, which serves as a gathering space with an outdoor kitchen. The space also serves as the backyard for all the apartments, with lots of plants and cozy seating areas.

community mural collage

One of the residents had some glitter on hand, and that took the butterfly art to a whole new level. Some residents needed encouragement and took over an hour with their creation. Other residents jumped in and would have painted twenty butterflies if they could. Justin, the Resident Services Coordinator, was the kindest liaison for all my onsite logistics. I wish I had a resident services coordinator like him at my house. Emiko, the property manager, is a stand-up comedian in her off hours. She MC’d both events and she had me in stitches with her quips while we all painted together. I wrapped up the mural project confident that the sense of community among residents was going to flourish not from the artwork, but from these delightful experiences together, shepherded by Emiko’s big-hearted energy and generous spirit and Justin’s thoughtful kindness.

finished community collage 2023

I’m sorry to sound like a broken record on my newsletter, but I feel compelled to say it again: I feel honored to do the work I do. I am continuously blessed and humbled by the opportunities that find me. Every day I head out the door with a paintbrush in hand is a fresh adventure and a lucky day.

With love,

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Morgan Bricca
Morgan Bricca

Morgan Bricca is an accomplished mural artist known for her captivating and vibrant creations. With a background in graphic design and a passion for public art, Morgan has transformed numerous spaces into visually stunning masterpieces. Her meticulous attention to detail and ability to capture the essence of a subject bring her murals to life. Inspired by nature and human connection, Morgan's work has graced walls across the United States, leaving a lasting impression on all who encounter it. Through her art, Morgan continues to inspire and uplift communities, creating joy and beauty for all to enjoy.

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