Wyland wields a paintbrush for Glennwood House

Muralist gets help from prospective residents as he creates an image of Catalina Island on the side of a future group home.

January 23, 2013|By Jill Cowan
  • Wyland, on the ladder, paints a sunset on a mural at the Glennwood House of Laguna Beach on Saturday. The Glennwood House is a residential facility for adults with developmental disabilities.
Wyland, on the ladder, paints a sunset on a mural at the… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

On sunny days, from the right spot in its terraced courtyard, future residents of Glennwood House of Laguna Beach will see two Catalinas.

One, of course, will be the island itself, a familiar hazy brown sliver visible on the distant horizon.

The other sits atop the aquamarine waters of a seascape mural some of those prospective residents painted Saturday morning — with the help of Laguna artist Robert Wyland.

Glennwood Housing Foundation Inc. is in the process of converting a senior assisted living facility off South Coast Highway and Ruby Street into a house that will provide services to about 50 young adults with developmental disabilities. The foundation expects to open the house in the first part of June, said Executive Director Shauna Bogert.

The goal, she said, is to build a community within Glennwood, which will help residents take a more active role in the Laguna community at large.


"Smaller group homes are there to meet [disabled adults'] daily needs, but they don't think about the bigger picture or really have them be part of the community," she said Monday. "That was my favorite part of Wyland being there, because he represents Laguna so well."

Saturday, the local muralist directed a crew of about a dozen prospective residents and their families as they donned Wyland Foundation T-shirts and grabbed paint brushes.

"Together, we're going to transform this into a beautiful coastal scene," Wyland told the group before instructing them to pay close attention to his process.

"You may want to paint murals for a living," he said with a mischievous grin. "Hey, it worked out pretty good for me."

From a blank wall to a mostly finished masterpiece — complete with a barnacle-studded gray whale spraying into the sunset, and other assorted marine creatures peeking through the depths — took just a few hours.

Bogert said she and a couple of volunteers added a little more background and shading in the following days, but the majority of the painting was done between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.

There wasn't much of a plan, Wyland said, because after completing dozens of murals around the world, he felt fine improvising.

"It's all happy accidents," he joked.

After taking a moment to squint out at the real Catalina, he leaped off the brick retaining wall where he'd been standing and headed straight for a paint roller.

Within minutes, the painted Catalina was complete and a blue water line stretched across the wall.

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