Morro Bay’s newest public artwork pays tribute to the annual kite festival at Morro Rock and is a whimsical scene of colorful fun recreating the most popular watercolor by artist David J. Rogers.
Rogers and his wife Peggy recently sat down with an Estero Bay News reporter to talk about the mural, which is over 50-feet long and about 15’ tall, and located at the corner of Monterey Avenue and Morro Bay Boulevard.
That’s where Rogers has operated the David J. Rogers Fine Art Gallery (407 Morro Bay Blvd.) for the past five years.
The inspiration, David says, was to do something in tandem with Visit Morro Bay (a non-profit association for tourism promotions), and the kite festival and to celebrate a milestone for their business.
“We are about to sign a new 5-year lease,” Davis says, “and we consider ourselves permanent parts of the community, so we wanted to make a positive contribution.”
And fine art is what they do best, so it made sense to do a mural. The building has long been known as the “Anderson Building,” according to the Morro Bay Historical Society’s walking tour of Downtown Morro Bay.
Over the decades it has been a post office and dry goods store and in the 21st Century it’s been an art gallery, first for John Ramos and now Rogers.
Peggy adds that it was a combination of that and a “celebration of the fact that we’re here, we’re happy and excited” for the future.
The original watercolor that David painted has become the best selling of his fine art, giclee (printed on canvas), offerings. In 2019, the last time they had the full Kite Festival before the pandemic shut everything down, David said he went down to the beach and took a bunch of photos of the colorful flying things and pieced them together for his watercolor work.
Peggy said they were so excited to see the Kite Festival was coming back in 2022 and were looking forward to it again this year. The Kite Festival took place this year from April 29-30, so the mural dedicated to the Kite Festival was completed just before the 2023 festival.
But David is a watercolorist, and not so much a muralist, so they searched around and eventually found muralist, Emily Tayman, at the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly mixer in March.
“She did the majority of the work,” explains David, who adds that their son, Joseph, helped paint it too.
With images of giant spinner windsocks, which serious kite flyers attach to their strings, lying outside the main image of the mural, it has a 3D feel to it.
That was what they were going for, David says. “We wanted the painting to be the central focus of the work.” The colorful windsocks fly outside the area of the painting and there is a father-son duo also outside the main painting, seeming to be flying a kite.
Peggy adds that they also put in a photo opportunity spot where people walking by can pose pretending they are flying a kite; it’s a common feature in public murals today, to have the viewer become part of the artwork.
So the Rogers consider the mural a gift to the community and hope it helps bring folks together over a shared love of art, the wind, beach and kites.
As for their future, they look forward to the new lease and continuing to get back to a normal routine that will include a return of art classes they used to host at the gallery.
During the pandemic, with in-person gatherings mostly banned, they started doing workshops online, where David says they could reach a worldwide audience.
But his former students long for a return to the in-person classes. “We learned that we don’t need to do workshops,” David says, “but the community enjoys it so much.” They now plan to bring the classes back, and continue the online workshops as well.
To find out more about the artist and the gallery offerings, see: DavidRogersArt.com.