Public art is a wonderful way to involve students in an exciting project that leaves a permanent mark on a school. There are many examples of public art created by Santa Cruz students with the help of art teachers and professional artists. Here is a sampling from around Santa Cruz County.
Mar Vista Elementary School
The idea for the mural came from photographs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Kelp Forest exhibit by artist and muralist, Gini Gyorkos. The Mar Vista parent club provided the materials for the project, which was designed and built by Gyorkos and members of her family. Approximately twenty sixth grade students, including three from Gyorkos’ special education class, and three Mar Vista parents worked on the mural which was completed at the end of the 2006 school year. The mural was a gift to the school from the parents, students of 2006, and Gyorkos.
Bay View Elementary School
Sandy Cherk, the arts coordinator at Bay View Elementary writes:
“The annual 4th grade mural project at Bay View was started 4 years ago. Extensive school renovations had been dragging on for years and the Parents’ Art Committee felt the school was far from beautiful. The Home and School Club hired James Aschbacher, a well known local artist, to work with 4th grade classes to create the first mural. James had the students draw pictures of sea creatures which were transferred onto the chosen wall into James’ designed framework. With James’ and parents’ help, the students then took turns painting in their creatures and adding their hand prints into the border to complete the mural.”
A similar format was used for two more murals. Again James was the artist who worked on this mural entitled “River of Life.”
A third was created with Spectra artist Lynn Guenther. This mural is called “Nuestro Jardin/Our Garden”.
A fourth mural was completed at the end of the 2005-2006 school year. This mural shows Neary’s Lagoon over 200 years ago, inhabited by Ohlone Indians and teeming with wildlife. It was designed by Lynn Guenther, painted by Lynn, Sandra Cherk and a group of students ranging from 7-10 years old. The mural was funded by a SPECTRA grant from the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz.
Watsonville Charter School of The Arts
This spectacular mural at the Watsonville Charter School of the Arts was also funded by the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz through a SPECTRA grant.
Entitled: “The Ancestor’s Future,” it was created in 2005 and both parents and students worked on it with the muralist.
Aptos Junior High School
Art teacher Susan Megorden helped to commemorate a student who passed away in 2002 by facilitating the creation of public art at the school. The project, which was funded by the student’s father, consisted of four separate pieces and involved students in their creation.
The generous donation initially allowed a restoration of the Mural “Ziggy The Dragon” which is displayed at the school entrance and is the school mascot.
Santa Cruz artist James Aschbacher was the designer and painter of a seven-panel piece called “Ziggy and Friends.” The mural was centered around Ziggy and students suggested the scenes which Aschbacher painted.
Students also helped a muralist create a 40 foot mural at the north end of the building. This mural depicts the history of Santa Cruz from the Ohlone Indians to the surfing culture of the present day.
Pajaro Valley High School
Art teachers David Perez and Katy Flatley organized a mural that was funded by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Office. The Aquarium paid for the paint and asked that the mural convey the theme of the path that water takes in the Pajaro Valley, going from the riparian to the wetlands to the dunes and finally the bay.
A dedicated group of students came to organizational meetings before and after school and then came to paint the mural during the Winter Break (Jan. 07). The following students were involved in the project: Dezerey Rosales, Denise Rubio, Andrea Alvarez, Diana Alvarez, Majali Alvarez, Edgar Toledo and Melissa Cardenas.
Soquel High School
Murals can also be used to beautify an unsightly building and that is just what happened at Soquel High School. This mural was created to brighten up the FFA (Future Farmers of America) shed at Soquel High. It features orchids and sunflowers, which are grown by the FFA students. Various students and teachers helped paint it.
Santa Cruz High School
Finally, 10-12 student artists collaborated to create the design of this mural at Santa Cruz High School. The mural, which encapsulates many of the features of Santa Cruz in an extremely imaginative way, is displayed on the school campus.