Illustration of future mural at R'Garden, UC Riverside's community garden. Note: this is not a final rendering. Images and design by Ekaterina Orlovie.
September 29, 2023

Help create UCR’s new mural with ‘smog-eating’ paint

In honor of Clean Air Day, students, staff, faculty, and community members are invited to join the painting festivities on Tuesday, Oct. 3

Author: Sandra Baltazar Martínez
September 29, 2023

The community is invited to join a local artist in creating a “smog-eating” 40-foot mural at UC Riverside’s community garden.

In honor of California Clean Air Day, UCR’s R'Garden, Metrolink, and the City of Riverside will host a day-long painting event on Tuesday, Oct. 3, alongside Riverside muralist Ekaterina Orlovie, who will guide participants in creating a colorful scene promoting the outdoors and sustainable ways to get around campus..

Orlovie will paint on two metal containers, owned by R’Cycle Co-op, UCR’s biking club, using paint with Photio, a paint additive that helps transform surfaces into air purifying agents. Students, staff, faculty, and community members are encouraged to participate in the painting of this smog-eating mural to honor California Clean Air Day. Materials for the mural have been generously provided by Metrolink, the City of Riverside, and R’Cycle. Participants may sign up for one-hour time slots.

UCR, Metrolink, and City of Riverside officials will also be in attendance, including Ward 2 councilmember Clarissa Cervantes. 

According to the California Air Resources Board, about 50% of greenhouse gas emissions and 80% of air pollutants in California come from vehicles. 

Riverside is working toward building a sustainable future and this collaboration is a step in that direction, said Fortino Morales III, UCR’s sustainability officer with the Office of Sustainability. 

“Whatever we can do to decrease that 50% number, including building these important partnerships, is great,” Morales said. “In recent years the City of Riverside has added bike lanes around campus, Metrolink is launching a free travel program for students next month, and now we are celebrating with the arts. The mural is symbolic, all of us coming to together, moving with impact toward one goal.”

On Oct. 4, Metrolink will offer free rides all day long to encourage Southern Californians to ditch their vehicles and opt for a more sustainable form of transportation, said Metrolink Chief Customer Experience Officer Lisa Bahr.

“California Clean Air Day is a chance to celebrate the communities we serve, including UC Riverside students, staff, and visitors,” Bahr said. “Taking the train is the cleanest and greenest way to travel across our six-county service area, and we’re proud to partner with UC Riverside to help combat air pollution for California Clean Air Day.” 

Improving air quality is a team effort and the partnerships toward achieving this goal are greatly appreciated, said City of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson. 

“What better way than to incorporate the arts and provide our community with a beautiful site while we help the environment?,” Lock Dawson said. “The community can help bring to life a custom work from local artist Ekaterina Orlovie, turning air pollution into something beautiful, safe, and sustainable.”

According to Photio, a Chilean-based company that worked with UCR’s Office of Research and Economic Development and its Office of Technology Partnerships, about 10 square feet or 1 squared meter coated in Photio has the same decontaminating potential as two mature trees. Photio synthetically stimulates photosynthesis through nanotechnology.

“Being able to improve the air that more than 26,000 students who regularly pass through the UCR campus — the same university in which our technology was validated in 2022 — is a tremendous milestone,” said Matías Moya Alarcón, Photio co-founder and chief executive officer. “This is especially important when you take into consideration the high levels of contamination that we observe in California.”

California Clean Air Day- mural at UCR’s R’Garden

WHAT: Community mural-painting event on UC Riverside using smog-eating paint to commemorate California Clean Air Day 2023

WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

WHERE: UC Riverside’s R’Garden, located toward the back of parking lot 30 off Martin Luther King Blvd. UCR is located at 900 University Ave. in Riverside.

WHO: Throughout the day, UCR students, staff, faculty, and community members will paint alongside Metrolink and City of Riverside employees. Participants can sign up in 1-hour increments here. 

Header image: Illustration of future mural at R'Garden, UC Riverside's community garden. Note: this is not a final rendering. Images and design by Ekaterina Orlovie.

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