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Penngrove goes wild with new roadside mural

With a little assistance, and some genuine inspiration, from the 4th grade class at Penngrove Elementary School, an unsightly roadside retaining wall near downtown Penngrove has received a first-class upgrade, and the results are nothing short of wild. That’s “wild” as in “wildlife,” the Sonoma County kind. It all started last December, when the students, having become aware of the constant graffiti marring the 8 ft. x 20 ft. wall at Old Redwood Hwy. and Main St., brainstormed ways to fix the problem, ultimately deciding the best way was to commission a mural for the spot.

They write essays and drew pictures, they reached out to Supervisor David Rabbitt’s office, then to Johannes Hoevertsz, the Director of Transportation and Public Works. Once they’d secured permission to use the wall as a canvas, and locked in funding from the Transportation Public Works Fund, they put out the project for bid, and ended up selecting local artist Maxfield Bala, whose vibrant murals are certainly familiar to locals from one end of Petaluma to the other. After meeting with several of the students, Bala worked up three designs, which the entire student body of Penngrove Elementary then voted on, ultimately choosing the one featuring a mountain lion, in what turned out to be a landslide victory with 320 votes out of 479.

Bala completed the mural in late June, and now the eye-catching art piece has transformed what was once and eyesore into a striking thing of beauty. Next time you pass by, you now know who’s responsible.

Thanks Max, and thanks kids!

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