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Landscape mural for dental clinic, health-care art not just for kids

By Emiliano Campobello in Santa Barbara Murals
Santa Barbara artist Emiliano Campobello paints a mural of a sacred Chumash landscape for clinic patients.


I just completed a wonderful "trompe l'oeil" landscape mural for a local dental clinic, so for my first blog I am sharing about this great project for American Indian Health & Services (www.aihscorp.org) here in Santa Barbara, CA! The AIH&S director asked me to come up with a concept for a mural that would take the patients' minds off of the treatments they were there to receive, and I immediately envisioned what I needed to paint into this clinical room. I decided to create the feeling and painted illusion of an open terrace, and beyond would be one of my favorite landscapes in the world.

This view of the majestic local Santa Ynez Valley has been one of my favorite scenes since I was a child. The layers of rolling hills and friendly mountains fading into the distance, with groups of oak trees scattered across the landscape, casting shadows across the hills and plains.. I always marveled that this amazing view from "Vista Point" (off Highway 154)! Totally untouched by man, this landscape was sculpted for millions of years by Nature's carressing hand. This was a great opportunity to share the magic of this landscape with people in the midst of a traumatic moment in a medical environment. From the moment I started to paint, I was absorbed into "sculpting" (with my paintbrush) these hills and valleys, being as true to the actual terrain as possible, loving it and learning from it. I wanted to give the feeling of the warm afternoon sunlight illuminating the valley as clouds drift in over the mountains.

The Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez area is the homeland of the Chumash Native American tribes. In keeping with the American Indian theme, I painted Chumash baskets, a mortar and pestal, and sacred white sage onto the painted ledge. These are painted in a realistic style, with attention to the textures, intricate patterns and stitches in the woven tule baskets. The Chumash Indians have lived here for thousands of years, and the actual baskets I painted from were made by Tima Lotah Link, a dear Chumash friend who is masterful in their tradition of basket-weaving. The sage is used for cleansing and purification, and is a blessing for health that just felt "right" to paint into this healing space.

I feel very close to my Chumash friends and "family" here, and it was an honor to re-create and document this landscape. I thank Scott Black, director of AIH&S in Santa Barbara, for the trust and freedom to create my vision for their patients and caregivers.
~ Emiliano Campobello