Chumash history & culture celebrated through acclaimed mural

June 07, 2000
Santa Paula News

Ann Elizabeth Thiermann, mural artist, holds the microphone for Julie Tumamait. Tumamait whose ancestry goes back generations to the Mupu Chumash village offered traditional Chumash songs at the dedication

The community claimed its latest public artwork on Sunday when the mural celebrating Chumash culture and history was dedicated at Blanchard Community Library. “It's absolutely incredible,” said prominent artist Tink Strother of the 50-foot plus mural before the ceremony began; artist and musician Xavier Montes provided entertainment with his Mexican folk harp before the ceremony, which drew over 150 people, began.“This is your mural, you made it possible through your gifts,” said Arts & Business Council President Joyce Carlson, who with her husband, Ernest Carlson, founded the Santa Paula Mural Project.The mural, the third in a series of 10, depicts contemporary, Mission period and ancient Chumash with over 40 figures and dozens of animals frolicking in the Santa Clara River Valley.Elected officials celebrating the completion of the mural were Mayor Rick Cook, who with Carlson cut the ribbon; Vice Mayor Don Johnson and council members Laura Flores Espinosa, Jim Garfield and Robin Sullivan as well as Supervisor Kathy Long were also in attendance.Librarian Dan Robles said BCL is “very proud to provide arts as well as books and research. . .” The mural is on the west wall of the North 8th Street library facility.“When you dream alone you're only dreaming, but when you dream together you can make it a reality,” Carlson said of the mural project's many committee members, including Howard Bolton who created the accompanying ancient Chumash symbols.Stephen Voelker, president of Santa Clara Valley Bank, a mural project founder, noted that the Carlsons' themselves were the founders of the latest mural, dedicated to their late son, Mark Carlson.
Ernest Carlson said Mark “Loved to hike in the hills and valleys seen in the mural,” and was fascinated when he came upon an ancient cave with Chumash markings. Killed in a motorcycle accident when he was a teenager, the Carlsons had Tink Strother, a noted portrait artist, paint their son with his dog George, a work that was on display during the mural dedication.“I know Mark would be proud to have his name associated with this wonderful mural,” said Carlson.Artist Ann Elizabeth Thiermann of Santa Cruz thoroughly researched Chumash culture, local plant life, and Santa Paula vistas for the work, which she called her “most ambitious mural to date. . .” The people of Santa Paula were “wonderful and I applaud the community for getting behind,” the mural project effort,” she noted.Julie Tumamait of Ojai, whose ancestry goes back generations to the Mupu Chumash village, offered songs, history and folklore. The mural will “stand as a representative of the community and be a wonderful teaching tool that will spark a lot of curiosity and interest. . .I hope it serves as an inspiration to people.”“There's a great lesson we can learn from the native people who lived off the land without destroying the land,” said Joyce Carlson. “This latest mural was a massively challenging job, and is a heroic work.”

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