Then and Now: Franceska Gamez

Portrait by Jen Yarmolyu
gamez mural
Mural at 18 Grams in Sacramento, 2019, by Gamez

THEN. In 2015, Franceska Gamez, along with her fiancé, Shaun Burner, and the Trust Your Struggle Collective, roamed the streets of Barcelona looking for free walls to throw fresh murals onto. Free walls are dedicated spaces that muralists are legally allowed to paint; they can even paint over existing murals. But Gamez says the unspoken rule is the new mural must be better than the one before.

“At that time, I was still really fresh and green and still really shy around my work,” Gamez says. “It took me two years to feel comfortable spray-painting in public, or even in front of my partner, just because I felt like I needed to have a handle on it.”

In two hours, Gamez painted a blackand-white mirror image of two portraits looking away from each other, a piece that she says reflects her because she’s not just a muralist—she’s multidisciplinary. Although the mural has since been painted over by another artist, it’s a memory she keeps close.

Franceska Gamez
Franceska Gamez

“With free walls, they get painted over quick by di­erent traveling artists,” she says. “The wall that I painted actually rode for like a year. That was such a surprise to see people still photographing it.”

NOW. Since Barcelona, Gamez has expanded her portfolio along with her reputation in Sacramento as an artist. In 2018, she and Burner were the lead artists who restored the historic psychedelic mural in front of Solomon’s Delicatessen. That same year, she also painted a large mural on the Hardin building. The mural, dedicated to Sacramento’s ricefarming history, was commissioned by the California Rice Commission.

She keeps busy with new projects and looks forward to creating a free coloring book to give people something relaxing to do during these stressful times.

“I’m literally working on maybe five or six di­erent projects that are all scattered in my house and unfinished,” she says. “I keep hopping between each one. It feels like I’m laying bricks in di­erent houses, and I’m never going to see them built. But I think it’s my way of processing.”

Asked to describe her style, she simply says, “I’m still on the journey of trying to figure that out.”