Project: Elephant mountain, Marin County-1986
Medium: Oils on Canvas
Dimensions: 8' x 25'
Location: Formerly at Guerrero's Chapel, San Leandro
When I got to Guerrero's Chapel for the first time I walked in to their main room and found a very dark mural painted in a wide frame. I would describe it as Frankenstein's Castle. Rain clouds over head, tree's stripped of foliage, a barren landscape and a European style castle on a hill. They had struggled with this image for some time and wanted something more neutral painted on top-something more local and a lot less scary. As an avid hiker and trail explorer I envisioned someplace that I've always enjoyed the Elephant Mountain area found as you drive towards Point Reyes National Seashore. I'd taken some photo collages of the area and combined them with the sky and clouds I was to use in my Lake Merritt Mural project next year in 1987. In some ways this was a warm up piece for that much larger public art work.
While painting in the chapel, often during funeral services, I found myself alone one day with a large gentleman whose service was about to begin. In the quite room his watch alarm went off around 10:30am and it continued to go on and on beep-beep...beep-beep. Needless to say I contacted one of the folks in the office who came and lifted his arm, took off the watch, turned off the alarm, put the watch back on his wrist and put his arm back down in position. The staff person then leaned over very close to the corpse, went into a bear hug position to shove his body up higher into the coffin and straightened the clothing and tie. He turned back toward me with a smile and said, "it's the live ones you have to worry about".
The folks at Guerrero's were wonderful and treated me like a family member, gave me a tour of the facilities and were super supportive of the mural painting. In the photo below you can see how I sometimes use tape to see the position of the drawing from across the room. The orange coat is the underpainting layer that helps give the oils more visual heft/body. On the table you'll see these were painted with Classic Brand oil colors. This work took about one month to complete.
A few years ago the room was remodeled and I heard a rumor that the mural was saved and perhaps moved somewhere up in Point Reyes but I've yet to confirm that. I hope it's still around.