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A New State Park Celebrates Art

A completed painting with the name of the park “DOS RIOS” in dark bold letters and with birds flying through and around the letters. Below the letters are lush greenery and trees with a blue river flowing. In the middle of the mural painting, there is an island divided by the flow of the river with birds and turtles roaming around. A silver and white colored bunny is seen in the bottom left corner of the painting.
Jose “Pepe” Muñóz’s finished painting of Dos Rios. Photo by California State Parks.

California’s newest State Park, Dos Rios, opened to the public on June 12. The opening coincided with the Third Annual California State Parks Week, themed “This is Where You Live,” running from June 12 to 16. Located 8 miles west of Modesto in the San Joaquin Valley, Dos Rios stretches over 1,600 acres and is the largest public-private floodplain restoration project in California.

Over 200 attendees enjoyed visiting different tabling partners and stations. Stations offered opportunities to learn about Dos Rios programs relating to wellness, cultural resources, and recruitment. Parks California, one of the four presenting partners of California State Parks Week, was in attendance to talk about Arts in California Parks. Parks California President and CEO Kindley Walsh Lawlor joined local artist Jose “Pepe” Muñóz to show how the arts and parks can come together to benefit the community. Public art brings tremendous cultural and social value to parks by adding meaning to our shared spaces.

A woman stands in front of an in-progress sign painting that reads "Dos Rios." She is wearing a light-colored jumpsuit and brown boots, with a blue scarf tied around her neck. The scene takes place outdoors on a sunny day, under a tree providing some shade. In the background, two men are working on the sign; one is on a ladder painting while the other is taking a photo or video of the process. The area is surrounded by greenery, and a wooden fence runs along the path. There are also a few chairs placed along the fence.
President and CEO, Kindley Walsh Lawlor with artist Jose “Pepe” Muñóz. Photo by Parks California.

Throughout the day, Pepe painted a scene at Dos Rios. He worked on swaths of blue sky and textures of green trees along with intricate details of Dos Rios wildlife like geese, bunnies, and quail. His painting represents the sense of place he feels at Dos Rios. Pepe’s artwork is an example of the work we’re supporting across the state to bring art and cultural programming into parks. Today’s event is a great example of how we work to welcome younger and more diverse visitors to experience parks and public lands.

After attendees visited booths and stations, a ceremony took place. There were speakers from California State Parks, River Partners, Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, Office of First Partner, and more. The ceremony ended with Ali Manzo, State Park Interpreter I, who spoke about community engagement in English and Spanish and led students in the Junior Ranger pledge. It was clear that Dos Rios is building a place for the community.