Article by Elizabeth Cameron of MendoParks.
Photos by Brendan McGuigan.
Featuring Original Artwork by Contemporary Pomo Artists
The Mendocino Art Center and Mendocino Area Parks Association (MendoParks) are pleased to announce a collaborative tile art project at the new Ford House restrooms in Mendocino, featuring original artwork by contemporary Pomo artists Bonnie Lockhart (Northern Pomo, Kai Poma), Meyo Marrufo (Eastern Pomo), and Eric Wilder (Southwest Pomo).
In 2013, MendoParks began a lengthy planning process with California State Parks to fund the remodel of the only public restroom in the village of Mendocino, the Ford House restrooms at the Mendocino Headlands State Park. The goal of the remodel was to add ADA accessible facilities and increase the number of facilities at the restroom. With support of local architect Debra Lennox, a design for the restrooms was created to complement the historic Ford House Visitor Center and Museum, as well as the aesthetic of Mendocino. The project features space for an original tile art mural as part of the restroom interior, in the quintessential artistic spirit of Mendocino.
In 2019 the remodel plans were approved with significant funding donated from MendoParks and, in 2020, MendoParks and the Mendocino Art Center began collaborating with contemporary Pomo artists for the design of the interior tile art.
Lockhart, Wilder, and Marrufo conceptualized themes celebrating the lifeways of Coastal Pomo people and began a truly collaborative art project with each artist painting different themes and sections of the murals.
“As Native Americans, we need more venues to share our story and for us, it is often through our artwork. Through our art, we show the community that we are still here. We are basketweavers, but we are more than basketweavers. As Native people, we have merged our traditional culture with contemporary art. This project allowed for three different artists from three different Pomo regions to honor the cultural landscape and lifeways of the Coastal Pomo people. Through the creation of six unique murals incorporating land, sea, plants, and animals. The murals were created to share who we are and what we are, instead of having a disconnect of where we are. We hope this project increases the inclusion and recognition of the individuality of the Native American people of Mendocino County.”
As the entire village of Mendocino is surrounded by one of the most highly visited State Parks in the county, the Mendocino Headlands (stretching from Heeser all the way up Big River), and the restroom is the only public facility in the village, this contemporary Pomo art project presents a unique opportunity to enhance both the visitor and community experience through art, and to hold space for inclusion and healing.
We believe in the power of art, and the power of nature, to educate, heal, and nurture our communities, and see this project as one of many steps our organizations and community can take towards supporting the original caretakers of the Mendocino Coast, the Northern and Coastal Pomo tribes. The Mendocino Art Center, MendoParks, and the artists hope you will enjoy viewing this project when you visit Mendocino, and that the artwork will inspire you to learn more about and support the Indigenous people in your home community.
Thank you to our generous funders who made this project possible:
Community Foundation of Mendocino County, George and Ruth Bradford Foundation, Visit Mendocino County, Mendocino Art Center, and MendoParks.
The Mendocino Art Center will host “We Are Still Here,” an exhibit of the personal artwork of Lockhart, Marrufo and Wilder, in May in June in all three of the Art Center’s exhibition spaces.
The Mendocino Art Center, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, has been a haven for professional artists and all levels of students since 1959, when founders Bill and Jennie Zacha first realized the potential of this unique community as an artists’ colony. Today the Art Center is a highly regarded artistic and educational institution, renowned as a premier art workshop destination, offering more than 150 unique in-person and online courses in ceramics, fiber arts, fine art, jewelry/metal arts, photography and writing, led by outstanding local and national instructors. The exhibition galleries provide exhibition opportunities to emerging and established artists, and the Gallery Store features handcrafted artwork by accomplished artists. The Artists in Residence and Professional Artists in Retreat programs offer an inspirational and supportive environment, fueling and encouraging artistic growth in the visual arts to artists interested in furthering their practice. More information at www.MendocinoArtCenter.org.
Mendocino Area Parks Association (MendoParks) is the 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports State Parks in Mendocino County. We fulfill our mission to inspire and ensure stewardship of State Parks through educational activities, park improvements, and visitor services. Since 1984, we have supported more than 12 State Parks and 6 visitor centers, contributing over $1.8 million since 2004 alone – all of which stays locally in Mendocino County. We invite you to join us in keeping parks safe, accessible, and thriving by becoming a MendoParks Member, making a heartfelt donation, or volunteering in parks: www.MendoParks.org. MendoParks serves State Parks on the ancestral homelands of Northern Pomo, Coastal Pomo, and Yuki peoples, who continue to care for these lands as they have since time immemorial.