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The Cottonwood Lake Mural

In 2021, we started talking with the County Parks about murals. Jason Gorman, senior park maintenance supervisor, was super excited about having murals since the bathrooms end up with graffiti too many times to count (taking a toll on his staff to remove). So, we talked with the rangers and decided to tackle our first one at the Hellyer County Park Cottonwood Lake bathroom. This location is where we start many of our BioBlitz events, so it was a natural choice for us.

Hellyer County Park Cottonwood Lake Bathroom Mural - Front

Hellyer County Park Cottonwood Lake Bathroom Mural - Back

The results are spectacular! The mural design by Paul J. Gonzalez is so lively and energetic, while highlighting many of the features and species that live in and around Coyote Creek and the park.

In the Beginning

The bathrooms were a beige color that was functional, but really didn't offer much in the way of enrichment. One of our requirements was to make them not only a work of art, but feature the beauty of nature found in and around Hellyer County Park.

Bathroom before mural.

To make this mural inclusive, we hosted a community input day in August 2021 at the park and sent a survey to neighbors to obtain their ideas of what they'd like to see on the mural. From that input, we distilled the main elements to showcase.

Community Mural Input Day at Hellyer County Park on 8/8/21.

Getting the Paint on the Bathroom

Part of the process was hosting a community paint day in February 2022 to kick off the painting, which was sponsored by Google. We had community members come to paint in groups of 12 for two-hour blocks with Paul directing the painting efforts. This was great fun.

Community Mural Paint Day on 2/27/22.

Finally, Paul worked on the mural until it was completed in mid-May 2022. While he painted, he enjoyed the beauty and peacefulness of this park during the week. He also had many people stop him to talk about the mural, including one man who shared a photo of a bird that was on his car. He then pointed to the bluebird, and recognized that as the same bird.

Please be sure to stop by and see his beautiful artwork. The County plans to add interpretive panels to identify the wildlife on the mural and invite people to come to the Visitor Center to see more wildlife.

Special thanks to our funders County of Santa Clara Supervisor Otto Lee, Google, City of San Jose, and Santa Clara Valley Water District. Special thanks to our volunteers, and all the County staff that helped in the background to make this mural come to life.


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