List of Panels:
(individual panel pages coming soon)
- panel 24 service
- panel 25 remembrance
- panel 26 our future together
panel 24 service
The value of service to others is universal. One of the deepest joys of being human comes from helping someone else, extending a hand, finding yourself in a spontaneous act of kindness.
Ukiah is full of service organizations, non-profits devoted to doing good, and other organizations with a prominent service function. I wondered how to represent service in the mural?
Originally I planned to paint a senior lunch, but on Friday, July 27, I was working on my scaffolding when two plumes of smoke began to rise to the east and southeast. As we all know, these Ranch and River fires became the Mendocino Complex wildfire, the largest in California history! Through the days and weeks, we all wore face masks and I painted in the orange gloom. The town was full of firefighters from all over the state, nation and other countries. Everywhere we went, we thanked them. People wouldn’t let firefighters pay for groceries, drinks and meals. Hundreds of firefighting planes flew over the Conference Center. At some point it dawned on me that the service panel needed to be about our firefighters.
The day I began the subject matter, I turned my attention to the middle ground. I was working from a great photo of an air tanker dropping fire retardant. These are American passenger jetliners repurposed into firefighting planes that can carry up to 12,000 gallons of water or fire retardant and have been in service since 2006. The aircraft I was painting is owned by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, and the photo was from the Mendocino Complex fire. I scrutinized its details and noticed the plane’s call-sign, 911. It jolted me because that day was Tuesday, 9/11, when the firefighters in New York seventeen years ago were also on my mind.
In the scene below I painted a CalFire truck and firefighters taking a break after grueling hours on the job. This panel was the first in which I used my gallon of orange paint. In the foreground I will depict firefighters in action. I’m also contemplating adding another firefighting plane, a smaller one that would be headquartered in Ukiah.
The tragic fatality that occurred in the Mendocino Complex fire reminds us of the danger these men and women face as they protect people and property. Matthew Burchett was a 42-year-old battalion chief from Utah helping to battle flames downstream of Lake Pillsbury’s Scott Dam. He came to help us and paid the ultimate price. It is meaningful that my next panel is remembrance.
panel 25 remembrance
A woman at the grave of a lost loved one will be painted in the foreground of the scene at Ukiah’s Russian River Cemetery, with Memorial Day wreaths lining the roadway and cherry trees in blossom. On the grave she will lay an American Legion Auxiliary Poppy honoring veterans’ sacrifice.
This panel depicts how we keep our loved ones with us after they have gone.
We carry them where they can’t go on their own by keeping them in our hearts and memories as we step into the future.
In the scene, there will also be a pair of figures who are no longer with us, two individuals very important to the history of the region. I will paint them strolling through this peaceful place of remembrance and let you guess who they are.
More commemorative portraits and surprises await next summer.
panel 26 our future together
Kids are the future! Children will be depicted helping each other cross a creek on a log on the left. You can see their outlines already.
As they emerge into grassland, they will be shown running forward and laughing, looking towards the viewer and then the west and the afternoon sun, which is setting on the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
In the foreground more children run and play on their way to the future, together, in a beautiful Mendocino landscape. And an idea that came to me while painting this year is to portray a particular child I know, who loves maps, holding a plan for a sustainable village, which appears in the distance!
On the sun’s golden rays are written words in white. They are the aspirational values of our ideal community: