Journey back through time: Chumash mural to be dedicated

June 02, 2000
Santa Paula News
The journey back through time starts with an old woman telling a child about her heritage and her words paint a vivid picture of Santa Paula Chumash life and culture. The ambitious picture painted by words includes Chumash life of ancient times and the Mission period, and is the latest offering from the Santa Paula Mural Project, the third in the series that will be dedicated on Sunday, June 4, at 1:30 p.m. “Am I excited? Yes I am,” said Joyce Carlson, president of the Arts & Business Council of Santa Paula, of the latest mural, located on the west wall of Blanchard Community Library, 119 N. 8th St.The mural is exciting, stretching out over 50-feet and thousands of years: artist Ann Elizabeth Thiermann of Santa Cruz, selected after a national search, has been visiting Santa Paula since January to work on the mural, which contains over 40 figures and 30 animals. She thoroughly researched Chumash culture, local plant life, and Santa Paula vistas for the work, which she estimated has taken over 400 hours of painting.The mural project in general has exceeded her expectations, noted Carlson, especially the “ability to get top-knotch artists and the extremely supportive response of the community. I believe Santa Paula has a tremendous potential for taking advantage of the cultural tourism boom, as well as creating pride in our community and our diverse cultures. There are good things about Santa Paula, and the increase in community pride just keeps building.”This latest mural has been drawing visitors for months and children enjoy art geared to them. . .the animals hiding in the brush, flying in the sky, sitting near the stream, climbing trees, “it’s almost a game to find them,” said Carlson. “People are beginning to connect with each other through the murals.”The mural is providing the incentive for a complete sprucing up of the front area of the library: “We’re going to carry the theme into the garden, plant Chumash native plants, have golden granite and boulders. . .it’s not only a heroic work of art but a teaching mural,” Carlson noted.“Chumash don’t like to be thought of as people of the past. . .they’re still here,” she added, as demonstrated by the contemporary Chumash woman and her granddaughter portrayed in the mural, as well as a special guest slated for Sunday’s dedication, Julie Tumamait.
An Ojai resident, Tumamait will offer insights into Chumash arts and culture during the event, which is expected to draw over 100 people.Creating the mural represented an “Enormous jig-saw puzzle,” said Thiermann, who teaches art through the University of California Santa Cruz extension school. “Some pieces would fit,” and others not, requiring rework. “Now it all fits together. . .”Carlson said “everyone is welcome to the dedication. . .it’s a community project for the community that shows pride in our culture.”Prints of the mural will be available for sale and elected officials from throughout Ventura County will attend the dedication.

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