Award-winning muralist, musician and art instructor Andrew Kong Knight has big love for the Bay Area, especially his hometown of Hayward, where his colorful walls of colossal art -- "Hayward Gateway" and a series of three "Hayward Meets Hollywood" murals -- enliven the downtown area.

But there's no big ego to match these massive works. In fact, Knight says he feels humbled to be part of a show at the Adobe Art Gallery in Castro Valley with some of his sketches, painting studies, photos and more currently on display alongside items from two of his mentors, master muralists Susan Cervantes and Daniel Galvez.

The exhibit, "Three Generations of Bay Area Mural Painting," runs through Sept. 7, finishing off with an artists' talk at 1 p.m. that day at the gallery, 20395 San Miguel Ave., Castro Valley. For more information, go to www.adobegallery.org or www.andrewkongknight.com.

Knight took some time out recently to share some thoughts on creating his enormous works:

Q What are some of the challenges of such massive pieces?


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A Painting murals of the scale I've been creating for the city of Hayward often seems like trying to climb a colossal, insurmountable mountain. The mountain is there, so people want to climb it and get to the top. With murals, the wall is there, and you are challenged to face many obstacles. I believe the biggest obstacle is fear, but it's not only the physical kind of falling off the scaffold at three stories high or getting hit by the traffic. But the greatest fear is facing yourself. You're responsible for every aspect of creating it.

You're your own worst critic, so you have to decide what sort of mural best represents your art and at the same time your city. It's climbing a huge hurdle literally to create one and a tremendous physical demand on your body, but once you've done it, everything in life seems very easy because you've done something that has been so overwhelming and seemly unbeatable.

Q Why do you do it?

A Most people don't get the opportunity to change their world. Muralists literally get to transform their world. My downtown Hayward murals are seen by more than 50,000 commuters every day. Not many artists have the fortune of having their work seen by so many. The great thing about outdoor public murals is that you can enjoy them for free, anytime 24/7. Murals aren't ever closed for the holidays!

Q How long do your projects typically take?

A People always ask how long I've been working on certain mural projects. I often tell them I've been working on them my whole life. Everything I know, the techniques I've practiced, everything I have learned about art is in the murals.

Q Tell us about the work you have in this show.

A This exhibition is a "behind the paintbrush" look at the process of creating murals. Pencil, watercolor and acrylic mural studies are featured and are for sale.

There's also an actual "mural" portrait on display as well. It's a 5-by-15-foot metal utility box from my "Faces of Hayward" mural series. It was quite a production to get it exhibited in the show. It was moved from its location, cut out in sections, restored, mounted to the wall and now is on display.

Q How does it feel to have your work on display alongside muralists Susan Cervantes and Daniel Galvez?

A I'm extremely proud and humbled to have my work beside two of my muralist heroes that I've had since I was a teenager. Susan and her Precita Eyes Mural Center have acted as a great inspiration and mentor for me over the years. And as a teenager, I would rush over to BART after school in Union City to Oakland to see Daniel Galvez do his mural magic on the walls and freeway underpasses. I was so inspired by Daniel's beautiful portrait work of the people of Oakland, completely blown away by the size of these figures and how he captured each shining spirit of the people in our community.

Q Are you still teaching?

A Yes, I teach drawing and painting part time at Hayward High School. I've been teaching at HHS for the past 18 years.

Q What's your next project?

A I'm finishing my "Faces of Hayward" mural project, which will be a total of 20 different portraits on electrical boxes along Hesperian in Hayward. Another project at Watkins Street and Mission Boulevard will be a collaboration with muralist Wythe Bowart. I'm also creating designs for some 3-D public art sculptures: a donation plaque for the Hayward Animal Shelter, and a large figure sculpture for the city of Hayward.

Follow Angela Hill at Twitter.com/giveemhill, or read her Sunday Give 'Em Hill column.

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