Some familiar faces with names representing Guadalupe’s long-time families now adorn the former Far Western Tavern building and future home of The Dunes Center, thanks to a new mural by a Santa Barbara photographer.
The “Ladies of Guadalupe” mural, installed Saturday by photographer Lindsey Ross, features portraits of women with roots in Guadalupe.
As Ross and William Presley from The Squire Foundation completed installing the final panel — featuring the remainder of Michelle Minetti-Smith’s face — applause broke out among the small audience gathered to watch them work.
“I’m so pleased with it,” Ross said. “I love how everything turned out.
“The whole community came out. Several of the women who were featured in the portraits came here, so I had a lot of support and enthusiasm from the community on this project. It was really fun.”
Days earlier, the conceptual fine art photographer captured the portraits using the wet plate collodion process from the late 19th century.
She created 5-by-7-inch tintypes and then scanned the photos at a high resolution before having them printed on engineering paper by Color Services in Santa Barbara.
Ross became interested in the process while viewing a collection of early 20th-century prisoner mugs shots.
“Photographing the portraits, it was great because I really got to know each woman and hear their stories and their connections to community and the families,” she said.
In addition to the Minetti family, others represented on the mural include members of the Masatani and Estabillo families.
Armed with roller brushes, Ross and Presley used a wheat paste to install the enormous panels for the 20-foot-by-20-foot mural on the building’s wall.
“It was just so fun, not something I’ve done very much of,” Ross said.
After the final panel’s installation, she said, a layer of varnish will help protect the mural, which is expected to stay up for 1 to 2 years.
Minetti-Smith watched her face get added to the wall of the building that once housed the popular restaurant co-founded by her grandparents.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s really beautiful.”
The mural’s creation involves a partnership with The Dunes Center and the Santa Barbara-based Squire Foundation.
The Far Western Tavern’s longtime building at 895 Guadalupe St., or Highway 1, is set to become the new home for The Dunes Center, a nonprofit organization working to protect and restore the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes ecosystem through education and research. The Far Western relocated to Old Town Orcutt in 2012.
Dunes Center staff were among those watching the installation of the public art.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Doug Jenzen, the center’s executive director. “This building used to be a center of the community. It’s where everyone came and hung out after work, maybe grabbed a beer. It was a place for conversation.
“What we’re hoping to do is turn this building back into that, starting with this mural,” he added. “We’ve chosen a cross-section of people from Guadalupe. And we’re hoping when people look at this they can see a little bit of themselves.”
Ross, who has worked in Colorado and Wyoming, makes her home in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone where she also created a mural several years ago.
She is an artist in residence with the Squire Foundation.
Ross will be part of the Squire Artist Salon featuring her work and that of two other artists from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 29 at Squire House, 4515 Via Maria in Santa Barbara. The event will feature the screening of Ross’ short film, Lindsey Ross: A Less Convenient Path. Click here for more information or to RSVP.