Project: Montclair Duck Pond Mural-1994-2002 Restored 2017 (with Veronica Rose assisting in 2017)
Medium: Acrylics on Cinderblock
Dimensions: 10' x 26'
Location: Cinderblock restroom building on Mountain Blvd. Park near the baseball diamond
I had worked at the Montclair Recreation Center for many years part time teaching young people basic drawing and watercolor classes. Nearby the center is a park with a little western town for kids as well as a large baseball field. There’s a cinderblock restroom building that was the subject of much graffiti. I was approached by one of the civic groups about putting some kind of art on the wall there. I painted a small watercolor mock up. Having grown up in the area about two miles away, my family had frequented the park and especially the small lake. We’d bring a big bag of bread crumbs and feed the ducks. After taking several dozen photo close ups I selected two images and combined them with a background of reflecting water. The first time the paint went on, I put on a heavy anti graffiti coat and within 6 months a huge area pealed off taking all the underlaying graffiti with it! I repainted the missing sections, resealed it and they held up well for many years. About once every two years I’d get a call saying there was some graffiti and could I come take it off-and I would, usually in under an hour. Then during the Jerry Brown mayoral administration I received a call from the folks at the park saying “you’re not going to like this”. Apparently, someone over the christmas holidays had put some nasty words on the wall and the solution was to paint out the ducks entirely! Since I had about seven coats of anti-graffiti varnish on the mural I used a strong solvent to wipe away the new coat of flat gray paint where the duck figures had been. This went back and forth for some time-they’d paint it out then I’d remove their paint. Finally it was gone and I gave up. Except not really. I contacted my attorney and asked for damages from the City of Oakland. After a year of waiting we reached an agreement to pay for the loss of the mural. My special thanks to Brooke Oliver in helping resolve this situation.
In July of this year I came back to restore the mural with the help of assistant Veronica Rose to repaint the ducks once again. We started by removing about ten layers of paint by hand and chisel. An online Gofundme campaign attracted many donations and with the help of Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington and local park supporter Euge Lee we were able to complete the project quickly.