Fruit of the Spirit -L.A.

The Dental Center commissioned a second mural - we discussed various subjects. I painted a
small oil of one idea, suggested by them, that included children in a garden acting out moral themes.
I introduced jugglers juggling abstract forms. Cheralyn Sheets, the founder of the Dental Center
realized what she really wanted was an L.A. version of Fruit of the Spirit, the image that made her
first take notice of my work. Dr. Sheets even knew where she wanted the scene set: a place she had
known since childhood. Fern Dell, in Grifith park is a miniature tropical valley with overgrown
rock ledges on both sides and a small brook in the center. Her backer insisted on a detailed drawing
of the mural composition before he would send financing. This was an awkward request as the only
way that such a drawing was possible was to use existing photos of children from Hawaii rather than
start anew with Los Angeles children. I visited Fern Dell several times to photo it. Checking it out
at different times of day to catch light changes.

A color drawing of the composition was sent to the backer. The backer rejected it but the Dental
Center was pleased and decided to go ahead with a catch as can can funding. As these politics
played out I started and completed the Oaks demonstration mural. As I worked on "Science, Nature
and Technology" I used that very public opportunity to look for kids to photo as flying children.
The children would jump from waist high brick walls around the shopping center as I clicked away.

After the science mural was completed I put full attention into Fruit of the Spirit L.A. and com-
pleted it in six months. All the compositional decisions I had made in the original color sketch were
kept. As the mural progressed many new images were added including the portraits of California
youth and also small Mexican statuary from the Los Angeles County Museum made to look like
monolithic giants scattered about the landscape. The Mexican monoliths were of course a statement
about the Indian heritage of the land but they were also for me a memory personal to my youth.
When my parents visited Edward Weston in Carmel, we kids would go exploring the forest around
his place. Near by overgrown with vines and trees was an old wooden circus wagon. A gigantic
sculpture of a clown's head, wood dried grey and split, paint flaking. This mysterious giant in the
woods left a lasting impression on me.

Fruit of the Spirit L.A. was painted on stretched cotton canvas, another reminder to me how
much I preferred linen canvas. Changing my brand of oil paints to "Old Holland" was a succesful
move. The denser pigment content made for vibrant colors with a wonderful ability to glaze. I had
enjoyed the few "Old Holland" colors that I had started using in Thousand Oaks and continued using
them almost exclusively on this mural - producing some luminous passages that I had been unable to
obtain with other brands of paint. Katie's portrait in the bottom left hand side has a lit quality, her
skin looking like candle wax, that delights me.


Sketch for Fruit of the Spirit

MoreOn: Fruit of the Spirit -L.A.

In 1999 I completed a 4'x14' oil on canvas mural for the Children's Dental
Center. This was the second mural they had commissioned from me. The mural
represents the joy of childhood by showing Los Angeles children in all their
ethnic diversity flying, as in a dream, through Griffith Park.

The first composition had to be done quickly in order to get the project started,
so I began with photos of my children when they were young. Some of my children remain -
my daughter Kawena 0 Keanu Kea holds her baby brother Kipano Keone A Ke Kai
Ko'o as he struggles to be released. Kamaluo Ka Aina flys free.

The focus decisions throughout the mural are unrealistic. I have chosen instead
of realism to let the focus serve only its immediate surroundings - using it to
lead the viewer's eye, to isolate certain moments of the visual narrative. As one
walks by the mural, its length is like a giant scroll, these separate visual
passages are seen one at a time.

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