Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FROM PRESS: Artist's mural tells history of Ventura

Ventura County Star
By Brenda Loree
Monday, August 24, 2009

Artist's mural tells history of Ventura


The story of Ventura is told in a tile mural that was recently installed by Ventura artist Michael Kelly in the entryway of downtown Ventura’s newest building, the Offco Building on California Street.
Kelly, whose tile work already graces several renovated buildings on Main Street, mounted the 12-by-6 foot mural recently. “I call this ‘public-private’ art,” Kelly said.
Created in early California Spanish Revival style in deep, rich colors, Ventura’s story commences at the bottom of the mural where Chumash natives paddle canoes. Below them appears the word “Shisholop,” Ventura’s original name.
Kelly put in two months of research for the mural with the help of the Museum of Ventura County’s librarian. “Everything depicted is authentic, down to the saddles, canoes and the clothing worn by the Chumash, Father Serra and the city founders,” he said.
Also featured is Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who made landfall in 1592 on San Miguel Island, one of the Channel Islands off Ventura County’s coast,. The island was known as Toqan by the natives.
Kelly depicts the old original pier — a wide wharf on which off- and on-loaded goods were stored on what is now Front Street.
Ventura’s oil industry was beginning to take off, so oil would have been shipped in the 1860s, he said.
Other historical figures depicted in the mural are Junipero Serra, and founding settlers.
The San Buenaventura Mission and its original wooden bell are rendered. The bell along with the clothing and saddles depicted is stored at the museum and will be on display again after the museum’s renovation is complete.
A series of green plaques running across the tiles show actual images taken from the bronze doors at Ventura City Hall. Ventura’s famous old Las Palmas Chile Factory made the cut, too.
The First National Bank, which still stands at California and Main streets as a CSU Channel Islands museum, and the classic 1920s Groene Building at Chestnut and Main (now the Watermark Restaurant) are on display, as is Ventura’s City Hall at the top of California Street.
Eucalyptus trees, native hummingbirds, woodpeckers, pelicans, a humpback whale, even Five Trees, which is now Two Trees on the foothills behind Ventura, are pictured. The Topa Topa Mountains preside over it all in the distance.
“With the terra cotta mural, I used a process of pen and ink drawing, which I enlarged to the mural’s actual size, then traced onto acetate. I burned a silk screen, like making a T-shirt, onto the actual terra cotta,” explained Kelly. It then went to the glazers for the ceramic glaze along with “a paint sheet of 40 colors for the glazers to follow.”
Kelly is a partner with Sean and Des McLean in California Pottery and Tile Works in south Los Angeles, although he lives and works out of his Ventura studio-home

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! We are blessed to have such a talented artist living in our community! Thanks Michael.
    Patti Strickland