The undersea life murals were commissioned by Children’s Hospital of the Central Valley (formerly known as Valley Children’s Hospital) Fresno/Madera, California. The design of the hospital is consciously geared to provide as complete a healing environment for children as possible many of whom suffer from terminal illnesses.
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The arts are a very prominent component of the hospital’s design concept. For example, the three main floors each have a distinct theme. The first floor has an ocean/under water theme, the second floor has an earth theme while the third floor represent the universe.
The Grape Jellyfish Cafe on the bottom floor was designed to look like an under water ocean reef. Fabricated coral pillars protrude from the walls. The ceilings are stepped and curved with fibre optic lighting changing colors constantly to simulate the ocean waves breaking overhead.
The walls between the fabricated corals were ours to fill with extremely detailed ocean life. Most of the panels were painted in our Peaceful Planet Images studio in Los Osos, California. We used flame retardent scenery grade muslin, coated them with gesso and then used acrylics to create the images. They were then top coated with a clear varnish. The murals were painted in sections, rolled up after completion and stored. When we completed a certain amount of panels we would take them all to the site and glue them to the walls of the Grape Jellyfish Cafe like wall paper. After they were installed we painted in the seams to smoothly transition one panel into the other. A final second top coat was then applied.
The panels vary in size from 6-1/2 ft to 10 ft high by 23 ft wide (for some panels we had to find an alternate space at our local Monarch Grove Elementary School nearby since our studio can only accommodate a panel up to 7 feet 6 inches high). Some panels were even painted sideways. To date we have painted over 285 linear feet of murals. This project began in May of 1997 and was completed in August, 2000.
During the installation, three in all, over a three year period, we were constantly told by children, parents, physicians and staff alike what an incredible difference the art in the hospital has made in their lives. The joyful colors and varieties of so many different reef scenes and abundance of underwater life has been and continues to be a delight to all. Children’s Hospital has become a landmark and the Grape Jellyfish Cafe a landmark within a landmark.