COACHELLA, Calif. - With each stroke of a brush, artist Armando Lerma, of the Coachella Date Farmers Art Studio, hopes to paint life back into his historic city.
"For years I've been thinking about doing a mural project here. I just finally met the right people and it was the right time," said Lerma.
He's turning bare walls of businesses into works of art. It's called the Coachella Walls project, a city effort to revitalize downtown.
"What better way to prevent graffiti and urban decay than to bring art in and culture into the city?" said Coachella council member Steven Hernandez.
The first phase of the $25,000 project, by the city's Art in Public Spaces fund, will include five murals by local street artists and others from around the world.
The murals come in time for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach this month, when the poverty stricken community remains largely forgotten.
"We're trying to entice people who are coming for Coachella to actually come visit the city of Coachella and experience what we have to offer," said Hernandez.
The artists hope the murals will not only attract tourists, but also inspire the people who work and live in the city.
"When you get to see something beautiful like the art that's going up now, it might change your day in a positive way," said Coachella Date Farmers artist Carlos Ramirez.
The Coachella Walls movement aims to bring art to the people and landmark the town as a place to shop and dine.
"I think this will give them a good reason to come out, hang out, check out the walls and the town," said Lerma.
The city will host a Coachella Walls art and culture block party this Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in front of city hall at 1515 6th Street where the community can enjoy food and activities while the artists work on their murals.