“Ukiah Valley – Past, Present, and Future”
Mendocino County’s largest mural runs the length of an entire city block on the north wall of the Ukiah Valley Conference Center in downtown Ukiah, California.
Artist Lauren Sinnott was selected through a competitive process in 2018. She chose to portray the region’s history, starting before human habitation and continuing up to the present with a vision for the future.
I painted the entire upper third of this monumental historical narrative during summer and fall of that first year. Working on a two-level scaffold the entire time, I think people didn’t really notice me because I was so high up. After starting the twenty-six foreground scenes when I set up on the sidewalk, my work on Church Street became much more social!Lauren Sinnott
Painting paused every year for winter rains, but because of the outdoor (very windy) location, Lauren continued work during the pandemic. In 2018 and 2019 there were delays due to smoke-filled air.
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Work began with the painted architectural elements and iconic words running along under the Art Deco element at the roof line, and moving down.
Why start at the top?… So you don’t drip on completed imagery below you!
The foreground scenes proceed in chronological order, from left to right, beginning with “nature.”
All of the panels have surprises, hidden figures, symbolism, and inscriptions.Lauren in front of notable newspapers in the excellence panel.
The 200+ portraits are mostly people, but also include 3 wolves, 5 dogs, 2 cats, a bull and a duck. Come visit the mural and see if you recognize anyone!
How it started
The desired themes I was given for the mural competition were:
- Pride in our unique and diverse community
- Ukiah’s characteristic landscape of agriculture and beautiful natural scenery
- A positive sense of the future
This huge wall was perfect for my idea of a narrative history. The wall is split into vertical panels, which lends itself to a chronological march of events. Each panel represents an essential chapter in our story through specific scenes, topped by a meaningful word hand-painted in script.
About the Artist
- LETTER OF INTEREST (for this project)
I am a professional fine artist with a diverse portfolio ranging from the most ornate Baroque ballroom adorning the walls and ceiling of a tiny private bathroom, to a life-size 3-dimensional winged angel portraying a beloved surfer after his death at sea.
While I have created a number of works visible to the public, many are either indoors or produced for an private client.
What is compelling about this project is being able to create beautiful imagery that has an inspirational message meant for everyone, and about everyone.
A civic commission of public art, especially located outside where all are free to see, is the most egalitarian experience of art appreciation. I love galleries and gorgeous interiors, but we don’t all have the inclination or ability to access such places. Works displayed on the city’s buildings are truly there for all of us, all of the time. Having been chosen to create a work that harmonizes with Ukiah’s cityscape in the service of the project’s goals is an honor. I applaud the City of Ukiah for adopting a Public Art Policy and throughout this proposal, I hope to demonstrate how I intend to fulfill its requirements and live up to its aspirations with my creative work.
All representational art tells a story, and the best public art often helps tell the story of its place.
If it is inclusive, it fosters a sense of pride broadly within a diverse community. My proposal is intended to enhance civic identity for all residents of our area and express that in a welcoming way to visitors. This is good for business, and simply good in general. Public art makes a commercial district more fun and interesting.
Public art also has a rich history, something I know well from my training. I have an extensive education in both the practice and history of art.
It actually started with my mom, an artist and graphic designer. When I was a toddler, I worked at a little table alongside her own, as she designed book covers and laid out publications.
In college, I studied drawing, painting, design and art theory, earning a BA and BFA. During these years, one of my teachers was an abstract painter who worked in transparent layers on huge canvases that ended up hanging in Texas banks. We all worked really big, and this taught me how creating large images – say a figure the same size as yourself – helps you break bad habits and really look at the shape of things.
I then earned an MA in Art History, specializing in the Italian Renaissance. This study truly shaped me as a painter. I think it lets me bring a dignity, elegance, and often a decorative enthusiasm and love of line to my subject. This background will help me depict our diverse community, past, present and future, with the respect and representational skill it deserves.
In addition to artistic vision and technical excellence, I offer my practical experience. Easy maintenance and longevity is paramount when one is going to the trouble of creating policy, then choosing, funding and installing works. My methods will allow the mural to be easily maintained and to look fresh for decades.
Finally, I feel well qualified to be one of the first artists to work with the community on public artwork guided by the new policy. Not only am I a working artist who has interacted with a variety of clients, and I am an art historian, but I was also an elected council member and the Mayor of Point Arena. Policies are essential in all realms of governance and I see Ukiah’s new Public Art Policy as a helpful roadmap, rather than a burdensome set of requirements.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to working with the City and the community as the project advances.
The daily progress on the painting will be sort of a show, something of interest to anyone visiting Ukiah’s commercial center, during a large part of the tourist season. It should be fun for people to watch the mural come to life!
In the spring of 2020 we faced the Covid-19 pandemic and I joined a local group sewing face masks for frontline workers and others in the community. This led me to design a mask that cups your face rather than pressing down on your nose and mouth. I have sewn over 600 masks, donating half of them. See the masks and download the Pattern and Instructions here: