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Artist, professor collaborate with Planada and Livingston schools on mural projects

Renowned mural artist Joel Bergner speaks with Planada students at Glen Davis Ballpark near Planada Elementary School.
Renowned mural artist Joel Bergner speaks with Planada students at Glen Davis Ballpark near Planada Elementary School. Courtesy of Merced County Office of Education

Students got the chance to contribute to a new mural at Campus Park Elementary through a project with an international muralist and a UC Merced professor.

The 20-by-60-foot mural at the elementary school in Livingston features the school’s mascot – the bald eagle – towering over students and San Joaquin Valley landmarks. It took about five days to complete, and each of the school’s students worked on it with international muralist Joel Bergner and Richard Gomez, an art professor at UC Merced.

“It’s not every day you have a local muralist partnered with an international artist and that’s so engaging for our kids,” Andres Zamora, the school’s superintendent, said. “We were able to give all 500 of our students an opportunity to leave their mark behind.”

Bergner has worked around the world in community mural projects that also address social issues.

Reuben Chavez, Livingston’s police chief, helped develop the mural concept and provided the artists with breakfast and lunch while they guided the students. A community workshop was held before work started to plan the mural’s design.

The district’s first mural was completed during the 2015-16 school year at Livingston Middle School. Zamora hopes Livingston schools can continue collaborating with Gomez and other artists for future projects at other school sites.

Bergner also worked on a mural project in Planada at Glen Davis Ballpark near Planada Elementary School. The Planada mural features a larger-than-life rooster looking over a local landscape featuring other animals, among other scenes. The two-week project was dedicated during a ceremony in December.

The mural “rejuvenated” the wall, which was covered in graffiti, according to Ildefonso Nava, principal at Planada Elementary.

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