Campus is canvas for celebrity alum James Franco

Adele Bloch, Author

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Both murals are inspired by photos from Palo Alto High School’s 1993 yearbook, and painted on a small scale by actor and alumnus James Franco, who was a freshman in 1993. On the left is a mural of students reading the school newspaper, while on the right lies Paly football players in action during a game in 1993. People that helped with the mural include Franco, Franco’s studio art designers, Advanced Placement Studio Art students and professionals from mural-painting companies in Los Angeles. Photo by Adele Bloch.

James Franco, Paly alumnus, actor, author and filmmaker, is spreading his art throughout Palo Alto High School’s campus by painting two murals on the outside walls of the Student Center and hanging his art in the Library and Media Arts Center.

The black-and-white murals are based on pictures from Franco’s freshman yearbook in 1993. The first mural is a group shot of students in 1993 reading the Campanile, Paly’s school newspaper and Franco’s old high school publication, and the second is an action shot from a Paly football game.

Franco originally hand-painted each image on a smaller scale, but they have been blown up to proportionally fit the Student Center wall, which is over 10 feet tall, according to Franco’s art studio manager Anna Kooris. With the help of his art studio managers, Advanced Placement Studio Art students and two professional painters who have experience painting large, hand-painted billboards, the murals are almost complete after today’s full day of work.

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The original painting that Franco made was blown up to paint and proportionally fit the walls of Paly’s Student Center. Photo by Adele Bloch.

“We decided to paint them on the Student Center because we were told that the building isn’t used as much as it used to be,” Kooris said. “We wanted to tie it in as something that was cool to look at and something that people could feel proud to have as a part of their campus.”

In his free time, Franco frequently paints, photographs and films, according to Kooris. In the past, Franco has participated in solo and group art shows, including a group show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. According to Kooris, he also has art galleries for his oil and acrylic paintings in New York, London and Berlin.

For the grand opening of the Media Arts Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18, Franco is holding an art show and film premiere. He will have multiple paintings hung up throughout the MAC and the library, according to Kooris. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.

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