Pictured above are Mayor Gabino Aguirre (at podium) addressing the large crowd at the mural dedication Saturday, and (left to right) Ernie Carlson, Joyce Carlson, and Dr. Trygve Forland. Photo by Don Johnson

Artists & Architects mural celebrates SP’s strong artistic heritage

September 29, 2004
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesSome of Santa Paula’s finest talents were celebrated Saturday with the dedication of the latest Murals of Santa Paula that highlights the lasting contributions of area artists and architects.From left to right the mural – done by acclaimed artist Wei Luan – shows photographer Horace Bristol, architect/artist John Stroh, architect Robert Raymond, artists Robert Clunie, Douglas Shively, Jesse Arms Botke and Cornelis Botke and architect Roy Wilson, Sr.The dedication of the “Santa Paula’s Artists & Architects” mural was held in the shade of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, located on the southwest corner of 10th and Santa Barbara streets, with musical entertainment by Donna Nelson.“It’s a wonderful day, but of course this is Santa Paula,” said Mayor Gabino Aguirre. “I thank all those cosmic and supernatural forces,” that created the weather-perfect setting for the mural’s dedication.Aguirre told the crowd that the setting for the mural near the 125-year-old Moreton Bay Fig tree is symbolic of the past and the deep local roots of those depicted in the mural.Aguirre noted that the murals are the gift of Joyce and Dr. Ernie Carlson who founded the effort to show Santa Paula’s history and culture through outdoor art. And, when you “peer into the murals you see the soul of Santa Paula.”Luan not only created the mural using the giants of Santa Paula’s artistic heritage but also included examples of their works.Also in attendance were family members of those highlighted in the mural as well as Vice Mayor Mary Ann Krause and Councilmen Ray Luna and John Procter.Dr. Trygve Forland, a retired orthopedic surgeon, sponsored the mural becoming the first individual to do so, said Ernie Carlson.Dr. Forland “encouraged many in their art careers,” and has been a collector of area artists, noted Carlson.“I’m lucky to live in this marvelous community,” said Dr. Forland.
Gail Pidduck, an accomplished artist in her own right, spoke about the artwork and how Luan used groupings “sort of like a teeter-totter” to allow the work of the subjects to be highlighted.The “wonderful space” between the artists and architects allows for examples of their work and the tripod at the east end of the mural was created so “eyes don’t fly off onto 10th Street.”Luan’s “wonderful colors and brush strokes” are vivid and although Pidduck admitted that she was initially resistant to the location close to the historic tree she now believes it to be an ideal spot.Since Luan was asked to concentrate on the artists and architects the background was muted to allow the “wonderful figures” portrayed in all aspects of their creative lives to “pop out.”Even aspects of their personalities – the attentive Shively, proud Wilson, relaxed Stroh, intense Bristol, contemplative Clunie, questioning Raymond, kneeling worker Cornelis Botke and the grand Jesse Arms Botke “woman, painter, mother” – shine through the mural, Pidduck noted.Many Santa Paulans are related to the group through blood or acquaintance providing the city’s own version of “six degrees of separation…and, we all connected to so much these artists created,” by being able to enjoy their works in many venues.Ventura County Museum of History & Art Curator Anne Graumlich presented the biographies of each artist and architect prepared by historian Judy Triem.“Judy was fascinated when she realized the connections between them,” said Joyce Carlson.Prints of the newest mural, the eighth in a series of 10, will soon be available at John Nichols Gallery.

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