The Alleyway Art Project: There’s something brewing in Fort Bragg. Ask local “makers”, designers, new business owners, and artists in our town— they’ll tell you that there is a creative wave gathering energy here. New projects and businesses are popping up, artists are inspiring each other, and magic is happening. A perfect example of this magic is the recent installation of an enormous painted rhododendron on the shed behind Coast Hardware on Redwood Avenue. The Rhododendron mural, inspired and co-sponsored by the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, was created by a local artist who goes by the name Ferric Decay. This is the first of many proposed projects in an ambitious plan by artist Lia Wilson to bring glorious public art to the alleyways and overlooked spaces in downtown Fort Bragg. Lia is a Community Artist with Flockworks, a community arts non-profit that has partnered with local organizations for more than 10 years with the goal of inspiring collaboration, creativity, and community. Through Flockworks, The Alleyway Art Project is supported by generous grants from The Community Foundation’s A.D. Abramson Fund and the Mendocino County Tourism Commission.
The project matches local co-sponsors with local artists to design and install high-quality artwork in downtown Fort Bragg. Each installation will be labeled with a unique QR code that directs to a web page describing the artist, the sponsoring organization, and the backstory– why and how the image came to be. Lia’s vision is that both visitors and locals will be able to go on a self-guided art tour around the downtown area. They will discover local artists, be inspired by local mission-driven businesses and organizations, and experience a little of the complexity and interdependence of our small town and it’s charming and quirky history.
Site of the 1977 Noyo Chapter of the Rhododendron Society
The Rhododendron mural is designed from a tattoo of some rhododendrons that caught Lia’s eye. She matched the artist with the Botanical Gardens, who fell in love with a sketch he did of their “Pink Delight” rhododendron. Looking to place the bright blossoms against a weathered surface, they chose the shed behind Coast Hardware. In an entirely unexpected coincidence, the shed overlooks a parking lot which was the site of the very first show and plant sale of the Noyo Chapter of the Rhododendron Society in 1977. What are the odds of this synchronicity? The official unveiling party will be Friday, May 25th at 6:00 p.m. Festivities will include the live gypsy swing band, The Hot Club of Comptche, a raffle, a blossom giveaway, and people taking selfies in front of the rhododendron with props, like large cut-out bees, since Fort Bragg is the first Bee City in California.
It took over a month to install the mural. Ferric Decay , the artist, projected a sketch onto the side of the building at night and traced it with charcoal. He then removed all the previous paint in the areas the mural would cover, carefully preserving the peeling paint on the rest of the building. Next, he applied oil-based primers, followed by tinted base coats, shadows, highlights, colors, and details. The image is so vibrant that it appears to leap out from the side of the shed. The May 25 event will be one of many as the Alleyway Art Project continues to enliven the streets and alleys of our fair city. We are so proud of all of the cultural creatives who live here and put their hearts and hands to work creating amazing murals for us to enjoy for years to come.