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Coastal Voices: Murals offer many benefits

During the last weekend of April, the Redwoods Mural Society hosted three founding members of the California Public Art and Mural Society, also known as CalPAMS.In addition, two Oregon muralists made presentations on their mural techniques.

CalPAMS, of which the Redwoods Mural Society is a member, exists for the purpose of assisting artists and communities in promoting revitalization efforts through public art. Ray Kinsman of Twentynine Palms, Gene Stevens of Lompoc, and Bill Drennen of Lindsey, gave a Power Point presentation in the conference room of the Lighthouse Inn, which will be invaluable as we progress with a mural program for Del Norte County.

Key points

Some of the main points were presented and will guide us in the following months and years include:

•Reasons for public art and mural programs in small communities – Among them are beautification, expression of community history, sense of community pride and spirit, cultural heritage and economic development.

•Murals can help bring tourism – They offer first-class art that is unique and professional. In one of the CalPAMS towns, only top quality murals are on a "mural walk" through the downtown area. Another example was given of Chemainus, B.C. To begin building a tourism economy, this town of 3,500 residents began a quality mural program and after finishing 12 murals, they welcomed over 2,000 visitors in one year.

•Murals have many innovative uses – Some of them include: facade renovation, facility enhancements, moveable murals inside windows of vacant storefronts, for example; plywood lamppost cutouts of historical figures, and renewal of old or empty storefronts, using paintings of faux windows and decorative brick walls.

•A successful mural organization needs to work in cooperation with other entities of the community – Locally, this includes the city, county, harbor, businesses, schools and other artist groups of the area. This cooperation is the best avenue toward realization of their mission. Experience and information needs to be shared with all others. In this way, the murals belong to the community, not just to the mural creators. A mural program is unlikely to turn around the economy of an area, but it can be a vital tool toward this end.

Gene Stevens noted that a community is a mirror. After passing judgment on the appearance of their area, residents can go home, look in the mirror, and ask, "What have I done to beautify my community?"

Murals can range anywhere from $2,000 to upwards of $48,000. On average, if done by professional mural artists, they will range between $10,000 and $12,000. The first responsibility of the mural organization is to arrive at a decision as to what the content of the mural will be, where it will be, and which muralist would be the best for it. It was brought out that different artists excel in different subject matter, so that, as well as cost and availability of the muralist, are considerations. Once this basis is established, a cost range is set and fundraising begins.

Join the ‘party'

Roger Cooke, our visiting muralist, often helps a community to do what is referred to as "A-Mural-In-A-Day." For this type of mural, a "master" muralist is selected and may be paid $3,000 to $4,000. This amount doesn't include paint and other materials. After the basis of location, mural subject matter, and muralist is selected, he or she visits the community ahead of time and, working with artists of the surrounding area, assigns a portion of the mural to each assisting artist. The entire project is under the direction of the master artist.

The work begins as soon as weather permits and may finish by early evening. For Mural-In-A-Day, a party atmosphere takes place with vendors, music, bleachers, and whatever else the community wants to add. By the end of the day, all artists are treated to a barbecue with wine and beer, and they are honored by all those who appreciate their skill level and hard work they have done. The names of all artists are then listed on the mural as its painters.

The Redwoods Mural Society has been in existence a little less than a year and has more than 50 members. We are now launching on this year's community mural, which will focus on the Redwoods of Jedediah Smith State Park and be on a wall of Crescent Ace Hardware.

We appreciate all volunteers who work in one capacity or another on the mural (you need not be a painter) and welcome all new members to our organization. Please let this be an exciting and fun way you can help your community.

Shirely Cook, a Redwood Mural Society member, can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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