This collaborative community project was created with a local metal forge, Mountain Forge, for the Recreation and Parks District’s long anticipated and brand new Aquatic Center facilities. The murals originated with a conversation with my friends at the Forge, answering a call to artists from the district that asked for proposals for a mural to celebrate the huge number of donors to the building. Parameters of the call included existing pre-cut steel animal shapes for each donor, a 10-20′ size requirement, a cinderblock “host” wall, a request that the imagery reflect local landscape and less than 3 months from the time of the call to complete and install to make the grand opening.
Our proposal, which was selected, was to construct a secondary wall of reclaimed Lake Tahoe pier wood on which to create, and to integrate both painting and metal into one larger image. The primary piece is approximately 11′ x 16′ built from 40+ year old Alaskan yellow cedar donated by a long time local pier builder. Mountain Forge built the structural wall panels and installed them temporarily in their workspace, which was where I did all of the painting work over the summer of 2016. Metalworkers at the Forge then proceeded to create amazing hand-forged landscape elements as well as manipulate all of the precut shapes, which I then integrated into a hand-painted sepia-toned interpretation of the Martis Creek valley. I chose to use sepia tones and paint directly to the reclaimed wood surface to emphasize both the historic quality of the material and processes involved, and Tahoe’s rich regional history. The final work represents the ecosystem of our abundant community, in which everyone plays a vital role, wether a mountain peak or a dragonfly. We also created a second large wall, 11′ x 4.5′ , on which I hand-painted every name of every donor (over 180!), with forged metal and painted landscape elements again integrated. The final pieces of the puzzle were three smaller panels commemorating the District board members, project coordinators, contractor and other major players in the build, as well as very large dollar and in-kind donors and corporate/municipal partners. After completing the painting the mural was sealed, and Mountain Forge created a custom forged cleating system to permanently attach all of the panels to the wall. Everything was completed and installed almost two weeks prior to the opening… approximately 7 weeks after we started design and construction of the first panel.