RIO VISTA — Busy muralist John Holland doesn’t throw out his paint brushes after a single use.
His five-gallon orange bucket filled with murky water and brushes, and his wooden sidekick nicknamed “Bob,” attest to that fact. Bob is a well-used paint brush with wild-hair bristles that he now uses for a painting technique called stippling.
The occasionally wild-haired Bob Marley, the king of reggae music, of course.
Holland, from South Lake Tahoe, was in Rio Vista on Wednesday, giving a mural demonstration that will be a “re” kickoff of a mural campaign designed to help fix up downtown Rio Vista.
“Community murals are fun,” he said, as he got ready for the all-day demonstration with about 30 soon-to-be local muralists. “They bring an added life to the area. I think Rio Vista has a prime opportunity for a nice organized mural campaign.”
Rio Vista’s inaugural mural committee was responsible for the mural on the side of the Rio Vista Fire Station – a replica of a 1933 fire station photo found by former fire chief, Tom Myers.
The new mural, spearheaded and paid for by RioVision – a community group galvanized to revitalize the city – is planned for the Second Street side of Books Rio V, which fronts Main Street. The building itself is owned by Hale and Sue Conklin. The mural will be a depiction of what the building used to be, a casino/saloon in the late 1800s or early 1900s, said Linda Solomon, the project leader for the mural. It will be a 3D optical illusion peek inside the saloon from the outside.
The group was looking for proposals, including concepts, and the favorite – an artistic technique called tromp-l’oeil that uses realism to create the optical illusions – was submitted by Chris Quan. Quan did a lot of research and came up with some old photos, including one of the saloon.
But that’s as far as Quan said he’s willing to go artistically. He came to the workshop Wednesday because of his interest in the project but, laughing, he denied any artistic ability.
“I’m not at all an artist,” he said. “If you asked me to paint, it would be ugly. I’m not sure if I’ll get my hands on (it) . . . it might cause extra work. For the sake of the greater good, I will probably stay hands off.”
With Quan’s concept, Solomon gave the drawings life – first a grid sketch and then a color rendition of what the bulk of the mural would look like, sans a few of the minute details. Both were on display at the demonstration.
The well-known Holland, who paints murals all over the West, demonstrated a variety of techniques and introduced many of the tricks of his trade. He eschews fancy equipment and instead goes for regular store-bought acrylic paints, dozens of brushes of various sizes, along with many household items such as box cutters and a long paint stick that he rigs into a compass.
Solomon hopes that this mural depicting a history snapshot of Rio Vista is the first of many more to come. She is already brimming with ideas, such as a whale depiction celebrating the 30th anniversary of Humphrey the whale, who first made an appearance in Rio Vista in 1985.
“One mural at a time,” she said. “Although in my mind, I have six or seven more.”
Solomon envisions giving tourists a reason to come to town with the murals and, she said, the city can’t afford to pay someone to paint multiple murals.
“Rather than buying the fish, we’re going to do the fishing ourselves,” she said. “If we want more murals, we can’t afford to hire someone for each one.”
Once the visitors are downtown looking at the murals, Solomon said, they walk by the stores and restaurants, hopefully stepping in to buy or eat.
Anyone interested in the mural project can contact Solomon at email@example.com. For more information on Holland and his work, go to www.hollandmurals.com.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.