Mural comes back to life | August 4, 2017 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - August 4, 2017

Mural comes back to life

Team of artists revive city's first public art

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The 50-year-old mural that was Pleasanton's first piece of public art has just had its brightness restored, thanks to a bevy of artists who worked mornings to avoid the summer heat.

"The group began July 12, carefully bringing the mural's colors back to life after years of solar bleaching," said Pleasanton artist Charlotte Severin, who coordinated the original project as well as this restoration. "It was repainted by local artists to keep the colors bright."

Severin and Steve Barkkarie, a member of her advanced Art Made Easy class, met at 7:30 each morning to set up the site for work, in the parking lot behind the Main Street Brewery across from the Pleasanton Hotel.

"Steve brought the scaffolding and a long table to set all my paints on," Severin said. "I brought big amounts of chilled water so everybody could stay hydrated."

Soon they were joined by other art class members to work until late morning.

"It is hot by 10:30-11 and the sun is beating on you," Severin said.

The mural, which captures the 1800s history of Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley in a vivid collage, is painted on the back wall of what was the old Cheese Factory in the 800 block of Main Street. To reach the parking lot, go north on Main and, just past Ray Street, turn right into the driveway after Gregory Frame Shoppe on the corner.

"It was Pleasanton's first public art," Severin recalled. "Mayor Bernard Gerton, in 1967, had a dream to create a mural on that wall. All of those little businesses belonged to the mayor."

The city held a competition, which was won by Livermore artists Helen Weaver and Esther McIntosh, and the design was mapped onto the wall. Volunteer artists then helped to paint the fields, racetrack and other local landmarks as well as the trees, hills, sky and clouds.

"I remember painting the train station and part of Kolln Hardware," Severin said. "The Cheese Factory brought us soft drinks and cheese -- little tidbits to sustain us."

The mural was dedicated in 1969.

But the years of harsh sunlight took their toll on the bright images.

"The first colors to go are the warm colors -- yellow and red," Severin explained. "Lots of times, you get a ghostly appearance."

The mural underwent its first refurbishment in 1996 in conjunction with Pleasanton's "Fiesta '75," Severin said. She also coordinated that effort.

"Here I am, still working on the wall," she reported last week with a laugh. "It's fun and everybody's having a good time."

She recalled that in the 1996 endeavor, a woman almost suffered heat stroke.

"I packed her in ice and called her husband to pick her up," Severin remembered. "She didn't have a hat. After that, I brought a big stack of hats."

Severin estimated that the painting would be completed by the end of this week, and said a sign painter will record the names of the participating artists onto the mural. After that, four quarts of UV varnish will be applied.

"We never had a varnish before," Severin said. "Also, acrylics were not as refined as they are now. We've been using the most advanced UV-protective mural paint."

The restoration was sponsored by the Pleasanton Art League (PAL) and the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council (PCAC) with co-sponsorship of Way Up Arts & Frame Shop in Livermore.

Other artists working on it were Bev Barkkarie, Cynthia Altman, Julie Frey, Annika Frey, Lydia Frey, Jeanne Tierney, Steffi Gross, Helene Roylance, Miranda Miller and Kim Coberg.

A dedication will take place in the early fall.

"It's pretty exciting," Severin said.


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