For anyone who has spent any time in Chico, the mural on the side of Taylor Hall, a building on the CSU Chico campus, is iconic. The mural has been there since the early 1980’s. The mural, “Academe”, was created by John Pugh; a Chico State art student at the time. The original painting took 5 months to create. John has since become a world famous muralist, well known for his large trompe-l’oeil murals. His murals can be found all over the world.
A few years ago Taylor Hall was torn down and has been replaced by a new, more modern building. There was a lot of discussion as to what to do with the mural. As the painting has become an important symbol of the Chico State campus, the university felt that it was important to have a new version of the same mural, placed in the same location on the new building.
I had a chance to talk with the artist as he was working on the project. I found the explanation of his process of recreating the same mural quite interesting. The artist described his process as such: he traced and took many pictures of the original painting; then he spent about a month in his studio (in Truckee, CA….my hometown, coincidentally) recreating the parts of the painting, like a bulletin board; he brought all the pieces back to Chico and put the painting back together like a big jigsaw puzzle, using a particularly strong adhesive material and touching up the places where the new pieces join. John explained that the new painting is much stronger and will have a longer life than the old version, as the products and colors he is able to use today are much improved.
I am by no means an artist. But I have an appreciation for art and those that make art, whether it be music, paintings, ceramics….the list is long. I love that, every morning when I walk to work, I have the privilege of seeing this amazing piece of art.