|Strictly Business Magazine|
|Strictly Business Magazine
A division of S&S Enterprises, a Floyd Snyder Production.
Santa Maria, California.
|Lompoc’s Murals Project - Beautiful Sites to See
by Jack Pellerin
In August 1988, a well-attended town hall meeting was held in Lompoc’s City Hall to discuss the concept of what is now known as the Lompoc Murals Project. There was a great outpouring of community interest and the project was born. The project creates a business-friendly environment that provides jobs, attracts shoppers, and helps revitalize the town. As of today, there were 16 completed murals with two more in process and the murals group has a goals of one new mural each 180 days to reach a maximum of at least 30 murals. All combined, there are actually in excess of 30 pictures on walls and fences, several of which have been privately added by local businesses and local artists at their own cost, to participate in the spirit of the program. The murals are “a reflection of what we are and how we came to be” - they depict Lompoc’s culture, history and such local industries as the flower seed industry and diatomaceous mining. There is also a community canvas on the El Camino Elementary School chain link fence on “H” Street, the City’s most heavily traveled thoroughfare. Future plans also include an “Artists’ Alley” outdoor art gallery in “Old Town” Lompoc.
There are costs involved, with the price to date ranging between $2,500 and $22,000 per mural. Sizes range from 2’ x 3’ (usually in clusters of various sizes) to approximately 40’ x 150’. The City of Lompoc started the project with $10,000 in “seed money” and many tax deductible donations, fund-raisers, and county grants have paid the costs thus far. A unique volunteer program is quite successful. Local citizens have been given the opportunity to “round up” the odd change on the Lompoc City utility bills. Therefore, those who participate pay 1 cent to 99 cents each month, and this now brings in about $475 per month for the program.
Obviously, a well-planned and successful community murals project takes leadership, and the Lompoc community has it. The founders of the idea are Gene Stevens, Murals Project Coordinator, and his lovely wife Judy. They had visited Chemainus, British Columbia in 1988 and viewed their 33 murals and said, “We can do that in Lompoc,” and they did just that. The Stevens are firmly convinced that art is a wonderful way to instill pride in a people and a community. It stimulates excitement and conversation. Gene has served on Lompoc’s City Council for 15 years, including 4 years as Mayor. He came to Lompoc in 1958 and was among the first 600 persons assigned to Cook Air Force Base, which is now Vandenburg Air Force Base. In 1962, he became Managing Editor for the Lompoc Record; and in 1969 he joined Allan Hancock College as a teacher/administrator. In 1989, he retired and since 1990 has worked for Lompoc’s Chamber of Commerce. Gene serves on many civic organizations and is well known as a highly enthusiastic civic leader.
The current co-chairs of the Lompoc Mural Society are Lompoc City Councilman George Stillman and Marilyn Oliver. Marilyn has been the group leader and a leading advocate of the project since inception. Several of the murals have been produced in a very unique and amazing method. It’s called “A Mural in a Day.” Ten to fifteen artists get together painting individual panels, which are then joined together to present a magnificent art work. The panels are then permanently attached to wall locations offered by owners of various local buildings. The Chamber of Commerce puts out a mural brochure, showing locations, the artists’ names and various interesting comments. Their difficulty is keeping up with this wonderful artistic ongoing program.
The City is most proud and expresses sincere gratitude to all their citizens for helping with this worthwhile program. As is true with most cities, and very unfortunately a continuing problem, graffiti is a real costly situation. However, so far and “knock on wood”, with one minor exception, not one single mural has been vandalized with graffiti. To those who paint graffiti, and you know who you are, the City specifically thanks you for not damaging the murals. By the way, the City of Lompoc now has an anti-graffiti program under the direction of Building Official Ed Penna, including a truck with graffiti removal materials. Their goal is to eliminate graffiti entirely and remove it within hours. This hopefully will discourage “graffiti painting vandals” from doing their “dirty work” anywhere in the community. Two slogans on the Chamber of Commerce brochure “hit it on the head” - the ultimate goal for every person is beauty…and…using art to build a better, more livable community for all people?
The City officials and Chamber of Commerce leaders include the Murals Project as part of their joint economic development efforts. Their hope is to enhance their community, increase tourism, and complement their well-known “Flower Seed Capital of the World.” Tourists and visitors can now enjoy Lompoc’s Flower Festival, the Harvest Arts Festival, view our murals, visit La Purisima Mission, savor the foods from our quality restaurants, visit Surf Beach, camp at River Park, and shop at WalMart, Mervyn’s and other excellent stores. Visitors can also avail themselves of the City of Lompoc’s Airport facilities, tour Vandenburg Air Force Base, and visit our Space Museum. If you haven’t visited Lompoc recently, you just can’t imagine what you’re missing.
Mark your calendars for October 8th and 9th, 1994. It is Lompoc’s Harvest Arts Weekend Festival at Ryon Park. Fourteen professional artists will lend their artistic skills for the seemingly impossible task of painting a giant (12’ x 48’) mural in one day. This will be your chance to witness art in action and to view a wide variety of art work on display.