BRENTWOOD -- It took a multistep artistic process and hundreds of hours of creative labor for Liberty High School students to beautify a major downtown thoroughfare this year with the installation of a mosaic mural on a sound wall.
Members of Liberty's Public Art and Design Academy contributed at least 20 hours of work each on the bright sunflower mural at Second Street and Brentwood Boulevard that is reminiscent of artist Vincent van Gogh and the Post-Impressionist period. Liberty is the only California school with a public art program, according to Liberty art teacher Katie Collins.
"Their internship is not a traditional internship," Collins said of the Liberty seniors who created the mural. "They are interns for the city of Brentwood."
Academy student President Victoria Spinola said the students were proud to be involved with something that will be part of the city for many years to come.
"It was so amazing to see our hard work come together," she said. "We have been working nonstop."
Public Art and Design students prepare for the public art project in their sophomore and junior years as part of a three-year program, and the academy is partially funded by a state grant from the California Partnership Academy, Collins noted.
Last year, students painted five utility boxes with pop-art images of locally grown produce throughout the downtown, and the academy completed an aquatic-themed mural inside a tunnel near King Park in 2012.
"They have driven a tremendous amount of pride within the community over the projects in recent history," said Councilman Erick Stonebarger of the student art.
For the mural, the city contributed $35,000 for tools, supplies and stucco that was applied to the wall to make the surface flat. Students painted panels of butcher paper with the mosaic design and then placed a self-adhesive mesh on top of the paintings.
"It is interesting how the students accomplished this mural, which is over 100 feet long," Collins said. "It was a paint by number, only you tiled by color. Then the kids placed the broken tile on the mesh."
Councilman Steve Barr marveled at how hard the students have been working on the project over many hours.
"They have been busy, and I have been watching," he said.
Mayor Bob Taylor said the project has created a buzz in the community because of its massive size and curb appeal. In the fall, next year's academy students will present a new public art project to city leaders for approval.
That project is likely to be located at the Marsh Creek Trail's two undercrossings near Sand Creek Road and O'Hara Avenue, Collins said.
"We are trying to put some art on the exteriors of those tunnels," she said. "Not only will the people who use the trails get to see them, but it is also quite visible from the road."
Contact Paula King at 925-779-7174.