By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
Longtime mountain resident Wes Abarca has just completed a new mural, his first in Twin Peaks, on the front wall welcoming visitors to the Twin Peaks Community Center, Centennial Park and Harich Field at 675 Grandview Road.
The mural is painted in his stained-glass style and features a black bear and gray squirrel, rocks, trees and the forest environment. The colorful mural is quite eye-catching for those driving down the roadway as it is located on a bend in the road.
As Abarca has been painting the mural this last week, many drivers have slowed down or stopped and have given him great encouragement, appreciating the style and subject matter of the mural. One person misunderstood that he was commissioned to do a mural and stopped at the site that first day, when he had only outlined the mural. They were upset because they thought he was spray painting graffiti on the wall. Some even challenged him about the project. He now realizes they were just trying to protect the beauty of the environment, because he really didn’t get the opportunity to explain the situation well.
It is Abarca’s 25th mural in the mountain area, some of which are in this stained-glass style, of wolves, eagles, raccoons and peacocks. These colorful murals of animals can be enjoyed by all ages. It complements the stained-glass windows of eagles that are installed in the community center on the park grounds, just100 feet away.
The cement block wall on which this mural is painted supports the backstop of the baseball field and edges the parking lot for the community center and park, community garden and dog park. The mural will add greatly to the visual environment of the area, making the previously boring block wall much more pleasing to the eye when going down Grandview.
This wall came to the attention of the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District this last summer as an eye sore when some graffiti marred its blandness. This new mural should enhance the area and discourage future graffiti.
Abarca formerly worked for the Rim Rec district at the teen center at Lake Gregory School. While he was there, some of the students asked to learn how to design and create large scale murals, and they decorated the handball backstops several times. Several of those murals remain and now decorate the playground at the former Lake Gregory School where the Rim of the World Unified School District office is now located.
When Rim Rec decided they needed a mural to be designed and created to cover the cement, block wall, which is over 100 feet in length, although only 10 feet tall in places, the district decided to contact Abarca. He has been painting murals all over the western states, including Utah, Arizona and Colorado, as well as in these mountains over the past decade. He estimates he has painted over 200 murals in this country, some as far east as Iowa where he has entered competitions and added to the mural landscape there as well.
Abarca has several other styles in addition to the stained-glass style, which he has demonstrated when he painted several murals in Crestline in the classic national parks style of murals that he painted for the Crestline Chamber of bicycling, kayaking and hiking. He has painted murals on several Rim schools, including the giant murals at Rim High School, those at Mountain High and at Charles Hoffman Elementary, plus he painted the classic dogwood postcard mural on the front of Goodwin’s Market in Crestline, which fortunately still remains after last winter’s roof collapse. He has painted several private murals, plus the mural of a forest scene at the Mountain History Museum behind the Goodwin bears wood sculptures.
Eagle Hill, Utah, will be the new home of the Abarca family in a few weeks, as Abarca, a skilled aircraft mechanic, has accepted a new job.
“However,” he said, “I will be able to fly back here frequently as the airline has flights landing at San Bernardino Airport. I may even be able to attend some of the playoff games of the Crestline Highlanders, since they are again in first place and need to defend their championship title.” He is the founder of the Southern California Vintage Base Ball League and his nickname is “The Commish.” What is interesting is that this mural, his last one to be completed before he moves away, will be to decorate Harich Field, where the Highlanders play.