Those who walk by Byron Gibbs Park can expect to see a bright new addition — a mural depicting an ombre rainbow is being put up on a stretch of patch-painted fence near Poppy Hill Drive this weekend, from June 26 to June 30.
The idea to pursue the creation of a mural came to Healdsburg resident Anamaría Morales about a year ago, when she began to pay increasing attention to the fence along the park’s path, which had been spot-painted over and over again, due to graffiti.
“My mom and I walk the dogs past Gibbs Park every day,” she said. “We pass by this fence and it’s always tagged with graffiti and painted different splotches of brown. It really looks depressing and I thought, ‘Wow, what a shame. This is such a beautiful fence and there’s so much potential.’”
From the mural’s inception, Morales viewed the fence as more than the wooden boundaries of the park. Rather, she thought it could be an attractive symbol of acceptance and hope.
While she always intended for it to be an ombre rainbow, recent events have expanded her view of what the mural symbolizes.
“The original intent of this mural was to brighten up the park as well as promote a sense of community involvement; I now see that there is unlimited potential for the meaning behind this mural,” Morales wrote in a social media post about the project. “Why not illuminate the park while bringing forth light to the issues of racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination in the city of Healdsburg?”
A group of volunteers — 10 at a time, to help accommodate social distancing — spent Friday, June 26 priming the fence, which is made up of a stretch of 561 individual panels. While Morales said that she hopes to have the mural finished by June 30, what mattered to her the most was having the project begin on June 26 — the five-year anniversary of the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling that gay marriage is allowed under the constitution.
“This mural means so much than it ever did, and so much more than I could’ve ever imagined,” Morales said.
Morales has created a digital sign-up sheet for volunteers who are interested in helping paint the mural. Volunteer sign-ups are in two-hour increments and volunteers are being asked to bring both a paint brush and a mask. On Thursday night, two days after she posted sign-ups, there were around 70 people signed up to help paint.
“I’ve gotten so far a lot of volunteers in the Healdsburg community, but also in the Sonoma County community — people who identify within the LGBT community, in the minority community, and also of people who (want to be allies),” she said.
Though the mural was OKed by the city council as a temporary art installation, Morales is hoping that it gets to stay long term.
“When I had to pitch it to city council, they had just experienced the robbery of the hammer and they were hesitant about the future of the mural,” she said. “It was passed as a temporary art installation with the conditions that if anything happened to the mural, I would have to upkeep it myself. It seemed that, although it was passed as a temporary art installation, that the city council wanted it to be there for longer.”
For now, she’s hoping that the mural is able to stand true to its myriad of meanings.
“A rainbow could mean hope, a rainbow could mean LGBTQ, a rainbow could mean a better tomorrow,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s just going to be a positive, bright, uplifting addition to our community.”
Following the murals completion on Tuesday, Morales hopes to have a grand reveal for those who volunteered to help paint.
“I’ve reached out to a couple minority-owned businesses in Healdsburg,” she said. “I’m planning on doing a social distancing gathering on Tuesday so the volunteers of the mural can come see the final project.”
To sign up as a volunteer to help paint the mural, click here.