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Local News

Volunteers Help Agriculture-Theme Mural Sprout on Lompoc Wall

Mural in a Weekend adds to community inventory of big art, with tour and dedication ceremony scheduled for Sunday

Former Lompoc residents Judy and Gene Stevens add paint to Lompoc’s newest mural Saturday. The idea to add murals to the city’s landscape came after then-Mayor Stevens and his wife saw a small British Columbia community’s success with big art. Click to view larger
Former Lompoc residents Judy and Gene Stevens add paint to Lompoc’s newest mural Saturday. The idea to add murals to the city’s landscape came after then-Mayor Stevens and his wife saw a small British Columbia community’s success with big art. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

In a matters of hours, volunteers of all ages made Lompoc’s newest big art come alive Saturday.

The Mural in a Weekend event also marked the community’s first big art to wrap around the corner of a building near the intersection of South H Street and East Ocean Avenue.

Agriculture in the Lompoc Valley is the theme of the newest addition to the city’s inventory of murals, and features a design by muralist Art Mortimer of Twentynine Palms.

This weekend’s event has another twist. In the past, the efforts to create murals in a day involved multiple experienced artists putting paint on the wall, said Vicki Andersen, project administrator of the Lompoc Mural Society.

“It’s the first one the Mural Society has just allowed the general community to come and work,” said Andersen, who also is a local artist.

Dozens of volunteers took turns applying paint, following colorful examples and using paint doled out by Mortimer and Mural Society representatives.

The Mural Society and Explore Lompoc teamed up to create the Mural in a Weekend.

“It’s been very good,” Andersen said of the turnout of volunteer painters.

Grants also from CoastHills Credit Union Foundation, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission and private donations helped fund the project.

The society’s inventory of murals previously included one celebrating the community’s history of agriculture, but the artwork had to be removed and didn’t survive, Andersen said.

A different mural once was located on the wall where this weekend’s efforts were focused, and Andersen is excited at the visibility the new artwork will offer.

“I think it’s going to be phenomenal,” she said. “The one that’s on here, you didn’t notice it unless you were driving right past it and looked over, or you were standing in the parking lot and turned around and saw it.

“This one, because it wraps around, when you’re coming down the alley you see it. When you’re walking that way, you see it,” she added.

Mortimer said he based his design on pictures and newspaper articles provided by the Mural Society.

As the master artist, he helped guide the efforts of “a lot” of volunteers throughout the day.

“They don’t all come at once, and trying to keep them all busy is pretty hectic,” Mortimer acknowledged.

“They’re doing good. Look, it was just black and white when we started.”

By early afternoon, the mural appeared to be taking shape as volunteers worked on top of scaffolding to reach high areas while others stood underneath the scaffolding to access lower segments.

“It might be mostly finished, but there’s going to be a lot of details that need to be cleaned up and straightened out,” Mortimer added.

Among those adding paint to the walls were former Mayor Gene Stevens and his wife, Judy, now residents of Banning.

The idea for Lompoc to add murals to its landscape came in 1988 after the Stevenses traveled to British Columbia, where a small struggling community that had lost its major industry found new life by embracing murals.

The project was launched to bolster Old Town Lompoc, with Mortimer painting the first mural — a salute to the flower industry — in 1990.

Today, the community has more than 40 murals depicting various aspects of the community history.

Mural in a Weekend continues Sunday with multiple art-themed events, including a mural tour, with participants meeting at 12:45 p.m. at the flagpole in front of Cypress Gallery, 119 E. Cypress Ave. Click here for the full list of events.

The new mural will be dedicated during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot at 100 S. H St.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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