Our Laguna: Murals add vibrancy to St. Anns Beach

August 15, 2013|By Barbara Diamond | This post has been corrected, as noted below.
  • A mural painted by Roy Gonzalez on Laguna Riviera Hotel.
A mural painted by Roy Gonzalez on Laguna Riviera Hotel. (Handout )

St. Anns Beach is awash with color.

Three murals have been painted on the beach-facing walls by three different artists. All are seascapes.

The most recent and colorful, clear-coated to preserve it vibrancy, was painted by Roy Gonzalez. It cascades down the hillside on a Laguna Riviera Hotel wall and features caricatures of locals and surfing celebrities.

"I worked for eight months on the mural, but I still have to add Red Locks, a Reggae musician that Laguna Beach loved, and legendary lifeguard Dean Westgaard," Gonzalez said. "But I had to come up for air. I was a slave to that wall."

Already pictured are the Laguna Greeter, Eiler Larsen; national champion surfer Jack Denny; rock 'n' roll musician and surfer Joe Petrovich, a regular at the Sand Piper; big wave surfer Peanut Larsen, who used to babysit Dick Metz, worldwide promoter of Hobie surfboards; skimboarder Max Caputo, tragically killed by a hit and run driver on Coast Highway; and Harry Willats, shown on a raft.


Willats was one of the "orrible arries," a trio of community activist that included The Cottage owner Harry Moon and Mr. Laguna, Harry Lawrence, all now deceased.

Willats bought the Laguna Riviera Hotel in the 1930s when it was a barn, said his great grandson, Kris Pearson, who is manager at the hotel. Kris' father, Kort, is the current owner.

He plans to have a formal unveiling of the mural later this year.

"People are always painting, but it isn't always artistic," said the elder Pearson.

Gonzalez and Pearson met through a mutual friend last year. They worked out an arrangement for the mural.

"I had done murals before in Hawaii and Costa Rica, but never one close to home," Gonzalez said. "I said give me a place to stay and I'll paint it."

He virtually lived at the hotel while working on the mural.

Gonzalez has kicked around a lot since he was born in 1960 in Los Angeles.

"My Mexican father was in the Coast Guard and he stole my mother from Ireland," said Gonzalez, the only boy of the couple's six children.

The family moved to Orange County, and Gonzalez graduated in 1979 from San Clemente High School, where he was on the surfing team.

"I was the first national champion," Gonzalez said.

He was also a budding artist.

In 1978, Gonzalez went to Peru as a member of the National Scholarship Assn. team and there he met Laguna's Bruce Hopping.

"Bruce called us pioneers," Gonzalez said.

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