By Kyle Maxwell aka 'kmax'​

Update: April 22, 2020

Five weeks after the Santa Cruz and SF Bay Area were put in 'Shelter In Place' Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the local population, like the rest of the world has experienced the loss of life, loss of income, and hardship. Local resident and rider Kyle Maxwell put his thoughts into action the best way he knew how. Hear his words about this creation:

"Nestled not that deep in the UC Santa Cruz campus is these old abandoned water tanks. Once used to protect the campus from wildfire, they now serve as a meeting spot, resting place, meditation center, snack shack, bar, and dance floor. Over the years, these tanks have served as a canvas to countless works of art. From mindless tags, to well established and now timeless creations.

I put these tanks on my hit list 10 years ago, being the most local place I ride, an icon of mountain biking in the Santa Cruz area. The universe hinted that it finally came time for me to step up and take my turn behind the aerosol pressure cooker. I've never done any work like this, but artists are defined by the ability to adapt and execute. So there I began one evening at a time, carving way at color and depth. A few hiccups of random taggers later, I was able to seal the deal tonight. Happy to see it in its final form for a minute. Soon, it will evolve and eventually be gone. Replaced by something different and meaningful. Because, if we know anything these days, this too shall pass."




Chido has been making an appearance in the tank art in the last decade.​
And Chido, the tanks dog mysteriously appeared a day after the art was completed. Here's Kyle's reaction when he saw it.

"Okay, so this makes me super emotional. over the past few years, as these tanks have evolved in art, there has been one constant: this little doggy. Whenever someone reskins these tanks, not long after, this little dude shows up. I was painting these tanks two days ago, so this was done yesterday. And it's absolutely perfect. Hug your doggies. Because someone dearly misses theirs."

-- Kyle Maxwell




In this season of transition, we give you UC Tank art that ushers in the new creative while paying homage to the old. The trusty dog is there to shepherd the transformation.​

Update: Oct 23, 2018

Fall is here and the UCSC tank art is slowly getting transformed into a new design. The dog showed up last week thus hinting that change is near and the transformation started before the weekend.

We are particularly fond of this one since it blends the previous masterpiece perfectly with art that speaks of transformation. We're happy if it stayed in this state through the winter but we know that there's no predicting whether this will stay in this state for days or months.

So get out there to those trails and witness this phase of the tank art regeneration.



Jeremiah Kille - August 2018​

Update: Aug 17, 2018

WOAH! Some established artists have taken over the UC tanks and the work has been breathtaking. The latest is by artist Jeremiah Kille, a mural artist specializing in geometric shapes. The art appeared on August 15 and riders have been compelled to stop their rad rides and take it in. Other works of Jeremiah can be seen here on his instagram.

A new trend now though is the short duration of the art and abrupt changeover. Some art lasts only a week and before the tanks are blanked out and changed forever. So one must get out there often to experience it first hand.



This one with birds and donut was a gem.​

The donut became a transition point for this art by an artist known for this bird theme. It transitioned very well with the donut tank. Sadly this art was gone after a couple weeks and very few got to see it in person.



July 16 saw the appearance of the very popular donut​

This was a popular one not only because of the vibrant colors but because of that donut. I mean how can you feel gloomy after seeing that art?

The latest art features a cohesive landscape with water, land and sky

The latest art features a cohesive landscape with water, land and sky​

Update: Aug 17, 2017

We are excited to present the latest UCSC tank art born on Sept 13. This is a throwback to the good old days when the tanks stood for art, devoid of any social and political statements. This new creation simply celebrates creativity. Each tank art can stand on its own and create a strong visual statement. But together, it is a more powerful entity.

This one too will be pass and be covered eventually so enjoy it while you can.

This transitional art shows the right tank evolving.

This transitional art shows the right tank evolving.​

August 2017 shows the right tank evolving and a little bit of modification on the breast art. It's a bit of jumbled mess which is part of the life cycle of the UC tank art.

Nov, 2014

Click HERE to view the collection of tank art over the last 20 years



The beginning

The tanks of UC Santa Cruz have been updated in November and this new art is some of the best work in years. Anchored by monochrome patterns, each of the four tanks stands as its own entity, but altogether it's a great body of work. There are a few objects and messages embedded in, so one can stare at this art for a while taking a break from a day of bike shredding.

On one hand, it would be good to talk to the artist and get an explanation of the art. But on the other hand, it's good to not know anything as well and just interpret it as we see it. Either way, this art is fleeting, so get out there if you can, as we know that change is as inevitable as the Santa Cruz beach tide.

October 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Clean canvases. Photo by Michele Lamelin

To many mountain bikers who ride in Santa Cruz, there is a familiar and welcome sight on the trails as one rides by the U-Conn fire road connecting the Emma McCrary trail and Wilder State Park. These are the four tanks of the University of California, Santa Cruz and they are always adorned with art or 'graffiti'. Some creative souls, most likely UC Santa Cruz students, paint these tanks with beautiful art that cycle through every few months.

The usual pattern is the four tanks will display a theme of art that blend together nicely. Then after a couple of months, one of the tanks will get repainted. A few more months pass and the next ones transform to create a new set of tank art. Once in a while, all the tanks get blanked out and the art gets a fresh start with a completely new theme.

A couple of years back, there seemed to be a transition to promote social and environmental causes on the tanks. Words and messages were introduced in to the art and although attractive, it seemed to detract from the true essence of the tanks, which is to create something beautiful on a blank canvas in one of the best places in the area. But that may be just the ebb and flow of the tanks and we hope it goes back to its more free-flowing graffiti roots.

Who paints these tanks?

They are most likely students or alumni of UC Santa Cruz. Here's a photo of them in action.

January 2014 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

January 2014 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz.

Two sets of tanks

One thing worth noting is there are two sets of tanks. One is the set of four tanks in the open area and these are really the main tanks that everyone photographs and talks about. There is another set of tanks called the Upper Tanks. They are just up the trail and there are two rows of them but in a more wooded area.

A calendar of riding

One of the greatest features of the tanks is they seem to document time for the mountain bikers that pass through them. Riders seem to remember their time here by the art they see and capture on these tanks. Since the art seems to change like clockwork, we're able to 'calendar' a photo by just the tank art displayed in the photos.

Enjoy the collection displayed here. Please contribute new and unique photos and let us know the month and year your photos were taken. Start your photo tour HERE or view the pages below.

April 2000 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

April 2000 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. With wheelie man Ryan. Photo by Mark Davidson

February 2002 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

February 2002 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Woodhead

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Contemplating the words. Photo by Mark Woodhead

August 2004 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

August 2004 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Joe Carpenter

January 2005 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

January 2005 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Brian Cherry

October 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

Summer 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

Summer 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

November 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

January 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

January 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by A. Lemos

February 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

February 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

June 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

June 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Moon triptych. Photo by Mark Davidson

October 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Steve Cooper

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Steve Cooper

Continue to Page 2 for more of the UC Santa Cruz Tanks collection and full photo gallery »

2008 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

2008 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

February 2008 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

February 2008 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

March 2008 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

March 2008 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

September 2009 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

September 2009 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. 3x Hunter CX 09/13/2009 with Greg Wilson, Steve Hubbard and James Collins. Photo by Steve Cooper

UC Santa Cruz Tanks

UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

UC Santa Cruz Tanks

UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

UC Santa Cruz Tanks

UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

Continue to Page 5 for more of the UC Santa Cruz Tanks collection and full photo gallery »

April 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

April 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Lev Stryker

April 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

April 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

August 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

August 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

August 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

August 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

September 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

September 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

September 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

September 2010 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

February 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

February 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Ride up the U-Conn singletrack and the rooty connector to the tanks! 2/13/2011 with Karen Cooper. Photo by Steve Cooper

March 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

March 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

Continue to Page 6 for more of the UC Santa Cruz Tanks collection and full photo gallery »

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

July 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Aaron Faupell

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

Continue to Page 7 for more of the UC Santa Cruz Tanks collection and full photo gallery »

December 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2011 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

March 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

March 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

April 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

April 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

April 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

April 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

May 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

May 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

June 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

June 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

Continue to Page 8 for more of the UC Santa Cruz Tanks collection and full photo gallery »

July 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

July 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

August 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

August 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

August 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

August 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

September 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

September 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

October 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

November 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

November 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

June 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

June 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. With Denis Lotteau.

Continue to Page 9 for more of the UC Santa Cruz Tanks collection and full photo gallery »

July 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

July 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

October 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

October 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Halloween 2013 with Sabine Dukes, Alyse Marika and Kenny Schick.

November 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

December 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Steve Cooper

December 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Mountain lion and dog. Wait. I think that's a deer. Photo by Mark Davidson

December 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2013 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Steve Cooper

January 2014 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

January 2014 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

January 2014 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

January 2014 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Scooder Seery

March 2014 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

March 2014 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

April 2014 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

Here is the second set of tanks known as the 'Upper Tanks'. They're not as well photographed as the first set, but the art created on them is sometimes more impressive.

May 2003 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

May 2003 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks. Photo by Mark Woodhead

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

February 2011 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

February 2011 UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

November 2011 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

November 2011 UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.

June 2013 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

June 2013 UC Santa Cruz Upper Tanks.