This wall of the Ukiah Valley Conference Center will be painted with a mural this summer by Mendocino County artist Lauren Sinnott. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal
Mendocino County artist Lauren Sinnott will be pretty easy to find this summer. Most days she will be in one block of Church Street, covering the north wall of the Ukiah Valley Conference Center with a mural.
Lauren Sinnott poses in front of a mural she previously painted in Ukiah. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal
“I’ll be working from dawn to dusk, so you guys are welcome to come by with lattes,” Sinnott told the Ukiah Planning Commission Wednesday, explaining how she planned to complete the ambitious painting plan by herself. “I’m going to rampage as hard as I can through the summer months before the rain comes.”
When asked what other murals she had done, Sinnott said her most visible work in Ukiah is inside the Community Foundation building at 204 S. Oak St., which she describes as “a portrait of the whole county” broken into seven regions, with each area represented by an “iconic” animal, tree and architectural feature.
“The only thing that wasn’t in that one was people, so now the people get to come surging out of the woodwork of this county and onto this wall,” she said of the Conference Center mural, which will cover the “Past, Present and Future” of Ukiah.
Since she will need faces for those people, Sinnott also welcomed visitors of all ages to stop by and sit for her if they wanted their faces featured in the mural.
The large vertical panels will each “represent an essential chapter in our story,” including Yuki and Pomo people gathering food, the arrival of Spaniards and Mexicans in the 1700s and 1800s, the construction of the courthouse in 1873 after California became a state in 1850 and Mendocino County separated from Sonoma County in 1859. Three years after the courthouse was built, Ukiah was incorporated in 1876.
“It’s not that frequently you get an opportunity to do this type of narrative, historical painting anymore,” said Sinnott.
Once the mural is complete – Kerry Randall, director of the center, said “we have a hard deadline of Oct. 1, because the mural needs to be completed by Pumpkinfest” – Sinnott said it will be painted over with a transparent, protective layer that can be cleaned if someone paints graffiti over the mural.
“I have committed to coming back and fixing it if someone takes steel wool to someone’s face,” said Sinnott, adding that she also will come back occasionally and clean it. “You don’t have to pressure wash it, just use warm, soapy water. And if the city provides the scaffolding, I wouldn’t mind coming back and washing it every few years.”
Alyssum Wier, executive director of the Mendocino County Arts Council, said this is the first offer of public art to be submitted by the council following the city adopting its Public Art Policy in 2016.
Wier said the Arts Council applied for a local impact grant and 11 artists submitted proposals, and two were chosen to complete murals: Sinnott for the Conference Center and Solange Roberdeau for a mural on the south-facing wall of the Ukiah Library on Main Street.
The Planning Commission then voted unanimously to approve Sinnott’s mural for the Conference Center at its May 9 meeting.