List of Panels:
Scroll down or click for new imagery in service, painted on Veteran’s Day, 2020. Individual panel pages will be coming as I finish painting them this summer.
- panel 24 service
- panel 25 remembrance
- panel 26 our future together
Previous SECTION FIVE
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 July 27, 2018, 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, at that time 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.
AND NOW, in 2020, it needs to be about our medical professionals and first-responders as well! Who knew how much that picture of me in a mask presaged the masked reality of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The day I began the fire-fighting 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 the day I was painting was 9/11, the same day that the firefighters in New York faced an unprecedented disaster in 2001, which was very much 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.
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.
Now in 2020, I have just added firefighters in action to the foreground. Plus I added another firefighting plane, #91, one of the smaller ones headquartered in Ukiah. See it below, very close to the back of the CalFire truck.
Over the course of 2020 we have experienced not only more catastrophic fires but also a global pandemic. The subject matter needed to expand to include a scene of medical workers treating Covid-19 patients. I worked from an image of the new ICU at our local hospital, Adventist Health. In this scene, I painted the 100th portrait in the mural!
Dr. Trotter has worked in Intensive Care and local Emergency Rooms for decades. he is well known and also well recognized! I painted this scene during the last two days of painting and already observed four people recognize him in the mural.
This photo reveals the third element of subject matter in the panel, military service.
This was the last day of painting for the season, Veteran’s Day, on the 11th day of the 11th month, which was when the armistice was signed in the 11th hour, ending World War I. My subject matter, unplanned, was military service and I completed the 101st portrait in the mural, that of Stephen C. Brunton, one of 22 servicemen from Mendocino County who lost their lives in Vietnam.
My great friend (and former colleague in government and transportation) Phil Dow also served in Vietnam and helped me select who to portray and what their stories meant. Petty Officer Stephen Brunton was assigned to US Navy Forces Vietnam, the “Brown-Water Navy” that delivered troops and supplies on the dangerous jungle rivers of the Mekong Delta. These waterways were the only highways in the region. Brunton was leading a column of river craft when the Alpha boat was fired on by machine guns and rockets. He continued forward; the column reached its destination, but not before this Ukiah boy lost his life.
The anonymous figure at the very bottom of service is a prone soldier representing this ultimate sacrifice. The gravestone at his head crosses over into the remembrance panel. A woman kneels in grief before it. She could be his wife, his sister, or the daughter he never knew.
This was as far as I got before we welcomed rain on November 13 across northern California. I’ll complete the service panel and its web page this summer in 2021.
panel 25 remembrance
This is Ukiah’s Russian River Cemetery, with Memorial Day wreaths lining the roadway and cherry trees in blossom.
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 figures who are no longer with us, including 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: