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Notes from Glen Ellen: New mural to grace downtown Glen Ellen

One of Glen Ellen’s many charms is its long history of innovative artists. As early as the 1880s, European artists like Thomas Dakin (1876–1935) were painting Sonoma Mountain and the bathers in the creeks. Later when hippies and artists were drawn to the inspiration of the town, Don Ponte, Timothy Dixon, Dennis Zeiminski bloomed here, and metal artist Brian Tedrick joined an array of jewelers, weavers and sculptors. And now a painter, Maria de Los Angeles, may become the community’s muralist.

The lucky space is the south-facing wall of the property owned and being rebuilt and expanded by Stephen Sorkin at 13647 Arnold Drive, facing Carquinez Avenue. The expanse was much too blank for the officials at Permit Sonoma in Santa Rosa to approve. So Sorkin, an admirer of public art, worked with the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art to attract a notable artist to paint a charming mural there, breaking up the blank canvas of a wall with tasteful, colorful art, while supplicating the permit police.

There is already some mural history here – there’s the “Welcome to Historic Glen Ellen” map mural by Whimsey Walls, directly opposite the Sorkin building on Carquinez, and the bright and uplifting Dunbar School murals of daffodils and frolicking children. There’s even a tiny egret mural painted on the cement piling under the town bridge, if you know where to search for it.

Sorkin and the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art selected Maria de Los Angeles to submit her work. De Los Angeles was born in Michoacán, Mexico in 1988, and has lived in the area since 2000. She is a Yale grad, via Santa Rosa Junior College and Pratt Institute.

In her art, one sees vast floating, jaunty figures – a la Marc Chagall, with just a hint of Frida Kahlo. Her work is both figurative and abstract, ranging from small works on paper to large paintings and murals. You can see the influence of her homeland in the sunshine yellows, golden tints, lime green and pinks that appear in the blankets of blossoms on a number of works viewed online.

A beautiful mural is not simply slapped up on the wall of a vacant building. It is considered and measured, and influences the ambiance of the neighborhood. The artist is inspired by the region to paint an image on paper. It is then enlarged in the studio using a grid overlay. When the large production is completed in the studio, a professional installer transfers that wall-size image to its permanent home on the wall of a building. The vibrant colors are sealed to ensure they don’t fade over the years.

The building should be completed in April, and the mural is anticipated to be completed in July, in time for a colorful summer.

De Los Angeles is soliciting ideas for what local people want to see on the wall of a building they pass every day on their way to work. Our mountain and wildlands? Historical episodes? Images of wildlife? For me, I’m up for blankets of blossoms.

Send idea thoughts to Maria de Los Angeles mdlafineart@gmail.com. She requests your inspiration.

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