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Photos: Artist transforms burned ruins in Paradise, California, into stunning murals

By Manuel Crespo Feliciano, Accuweather en Español staff writer
February 22, 2019, 1:03:57 AM EST


Over 100 days since the massive wildfire that burned down the city of Paradise, California, ignited, the painful memories and the indelible losses continue for those who survived the catastrophe.

Today, Paradise resembles a post-war zone scene: 85 improvised wooden crosses carry the names of those who were killed while trying to escape the raging Camp Fire, the debris of 18,804 burned structures still lay on the ground and around 153,336 acres of scorched land still remain after the devastation of November 2018.

Christina Taft

In this Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 photo, Christina Taft, the daughter of Camp Fire victim Victoria Taft, poses with a photo of her mother, at the burned out ruins of the Paradise, Calif., home where she died last fall. Taft refused to leave. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)


However, since last January, creative director for theme parks and former graffiti artist Shane Grammer has begun an artistic project that is bringing a ray of hope to the streets of Paradise.

Grammer told AccuWeather that everything happened in a spontaneous way.

In essence, the project was born because of the spiritual connection he feels with this place and as a way of honoring the memories he lived in this place.

(Instagram photo/Shane Grammer)

Shane Grammer, left, and Shane Edwards after Grammer finished painting a mural on Edwards's burned-out fireplace in Paradise, California.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A mural by artist Shane Grammer adorns the wall of a building leveled by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Grammer says he painted murals throughout the fire-ravaged town to convey hope in the midst of destruction.

(Instagram photo/Shane Grammer)

"One of the hard realities are the small business owners that lost their business during the fire. As we meet them we find out that a lot of them have to move away and start their business all over again. Here’s a small auto shop that completely burnt down. I thought this van was a beautiful canvas to paint," Grammer said.

(Instagram photo/Shane Grammer)

"This Mural is a memorial to Helen Pace. Helen was 84 years old. She was a widow. She is survived by four children, eight grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. Her life was taken in the Camp fire. She was a dear, sweet, and kind lady. God rest her soul, in Jesus," Grammer said.

(Instagram photo/Shane Grammer)

"I was born and raised in Chico, California, not too far from Paradise. It was so devastating to have so many childhood friends completely lose their homes. As I saw photos from the wreckage and aftermath of the fire it’s one of those things I knew I had to paint," Grammer said.

(Instagram photo/Shane Grammer)

"Paradise has had an impact on me personally. I will be forever changed as an artist and have been humbled by all the wonderful people I have met along the way. Because of this project in paradise I have a deep passion to continue to create artwork that speaks and moves people emotionally," Grammer said.


The Camp Fire began last November and affected over 25,000 residences in the area. Many good childhood friends of Grammer were among those affected by the fire.

“It was emotionally overwhelming. It was just completely wiped away, blocks of homes. All you would see were burned cars and chimneys. I almost pulled over and started crying,” Grammer told AccuWeather.

This kind of project is not new to Shane Grammer. His artistic work is all over the world: from orphanages in Tijuana, Mexico, to collaborations made with non-profits that help girls who are survivors of sexual assault in Cambodia.

Also, Grammer said that his art has always been inspired by his desire “to bring joy to the downcast and the brokenhearted,” which is something that fits perfectly to the scene that Paradise residents live today.

Paradise Wildfire


This project is part of an art series he is producing called “The Bride.” The art collection is inspired by bible fragments, specifically the songs King Solomon dedicated to his lovely and beautiful “bride.”

“That’s why I’m painting portraits of women. It's an allegory story in which the king represents God and the bride represents mankind. So, the women represent us, it represents mankind.”

Grammer adds that it is also related to how beauty can bloom in middle of devastation and a way of reconstructing the sense of community that was lost because of the wildfires.

“As an artist, I’ve spent my life learning to create artwork that touches, connects and moves people emotionally. And that happened in Paradise. It was a miracle on how much it has touched people,” said the artist.

Paradise wildfire

Until the date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had provided around $69 million to survivors of the California wildfire disasters. However, a long road lies ahead for the total reconstruction of the Camp Fire area. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)


Even though his art will eventually be torn down because of the recovery efforts of the community, Shane’s dedication to Paradise goes beyond these pieces he painted in recent weeks.

Looking to the future, Grammer seeks to install a temporary art workshop in the area, and has plans to develop art projects to raise funds for the victims.

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