As a dinosaur appears poised to chomp his head, Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Ken Ostini talks about the city’s newest mural. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

With a dinosaur poised to gobble up passersby, Lompoc’s newest mural proves art can be fun.

The “Feeding Time” mural featuring dinosaurs was dedicated last week as the Lompoc Mural Society’s newest — and hungriest — big art.

“I like all of our murals, but because it is different I think this, right now, is probably one of my favorites,” Mayor Bob Lingl said. “It’s one that’s going to draw a lot of attention.”

With jaw opened wide, the main dinosaur depicted has already become a source of fun photo taking — even by Mural Society volunteers jokingly acting like the big reptile was hungry for them.

“We’ve had a really great response to it,” said Vicki Andersen, the Mural Society’s project administrator. “It’s been fun.”

Shortly after the artwork was installed, a young boy brought his toy dinosaur to face off with the ones featured in “Feeding Time.”

And, for a photo after the ceremony, the Mural Society’s Sandy Price decided to pet one of the dinosaurs as another’s jaw appears poised to gobble her up, all while a photo captured the moment.

This is exactly what artist Jeff Raum of Moorpark hoped would happen with his creation.

“The whole idea was that I wanted people to stand in front of this and have their picture taken as if they’re about to be eaten so that’s why I called it ‘Feeding Time,’” he said.

“I wanted to have that ravenous mouth open like, ‘lunch’ kind of look on his face, leaning over looking out the window.”

The newest mural, 8 feet by 20 feet, is the result of an open call for artists held during the spring.

A committee selected the design by Raum, who actually submitted two ideas. Along with the dinosaur theme, his other focused on prehistoric mammals like the sabre-toothed cat, California’s state fossil. 

Raum has produced residential murals and scenic backdrops for TV commercials. 

“I’ve been doing murals my whole life,” the 55-year-old said.

The most popular theme — at least for those hiring his talents — are Tuscany landscapes for private wine cellars. 

“I don’t drink myself so it’s kind of ironic,” Raum said.

In reality, he enjoys creating murals with people and animals, and noted he doesn’t often have a chance to focus on dinosaurs. 

His second passion is acting, so he when paints living creatures he tries to get in their heads to add some personality.

Raum’s mural depicts a scene from the Late Cretaceous Period (about 75 million years ago) of Western North America.  

A large carnivore Albertosaurus — the ravenous dinosaur — erupts from a window in a wall with two Lambeosauruses also included.

Seemingly unaware of the hungry dinosaur lurking nearby, Sandy Price pets a dinosaur on Lompoc’s newest mural as John Gayton takes her picture. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Most of Lompoc’s murals show some specific part of the community’s  history — a flower field, rocket launches or Chumash roots — but the all-volunteer-society decided to leave the subject matter up to the artist.  

The behemoth dinosaurs were in place just in time for the opening of the movie Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the franchise.  

“That was a real coincidence,” Andersen said. 

The mural hangs in Art Alley, which runs parallel to Ocean Avenue between the 100 blocks of South H and I streets in Old Town Lompoc.

The new mural is near the “The Boatmen,” on the north exterior wall of Sissy’s Uptown Cafe. Dedicated last fall, “The Boatmen” by John Pugh appears to be protruding from the wall.

Pugh is a renowned artist in trompe-l’œil, French for “deceive the eye,” which refers to an art technique that employs realistic imagery to create an optical illusion of a a three-dimensional image.

For more than 25 years, Lompoc has embraced murals with dozens now decorating the Old Town walls. The project started to revive a deteriorating downtown. 

The murals have attracted visitors from across the globe, with calls about the artwork received regularly at the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce from people hoping to visit and view them. 

In fact, Andersen will be giving tours of the big art to Mercedes-Benz Club members and travel writers visiting the city later this month.

More than two decades after installation of the first murals, restoration and preservation also have become a big focus as weather is taking a toll on the outdoors art.

The society recently hired its first curator to help protect the earlier murals. 

“One of the biggest problems with public art, as everybody knows, is they deteriorate over time,” said Carol Oliveira, Mural Society chair.

“So Ann Thompson is our curator and you’ll see her hanging off of ladders all over town.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.