Priority Kids, shows four gondolas cruising a canal of royal blue
water against a backdrop of a fiery orange and yellow sky with
periwinkle blue and gray clouds providing a dark contrast to the
bright, sparkling canal.
The students delivered the mural Wednesday to Adventures at Sea,
in advance of its being installed in the dock area.
Many of the students at the Santa Ana school have been involved in
gangs or have social and academic problems. Painting the mural
enabled them to channel their artistic talent into a project that
benefits others by adding color and culture to the harbor.
"I think it's a fabulous chance for our kids to reach out and be
part of the community instead of socially unaccepted like they are
perceived at times," said Janeen Antonelli, principal. "They're
The project was conceived when Santiago teacher and Newport Beach
resident Cyndie Borcoman asked Kathy Leek, public relations director
for Adventures at Sea, what her students could do to aesthetically
enhance the nearby dock area. Borcoman teaches the school's Art Based
Leek suggested a mural of Venice, providing the students with an
opportunity to research the ancient Italian city. Ten students rolled
up their sleeves and readied their paintbrushes three months ago,
working on the mural in between doing their regular schoolwork.
They were aided in their painting by Jose Simon, 19, a former
Santiago student. After the students studied the architecture of
Venice, Simon engaged them in a collaborative discussion about what
the three-panel mural would look like.
"It was very interactive, we got to talk a lot, it was very fun,"
He then drew a model of the Venetian scene and painted the sky.
The other students pitched in to complete the mural, which also
features Mediterranean-style villas lining the canal. The only
challenge ensued when Simon painted one of the panels with green
water and the other students painted the canal blue. The mismatch was
easily resolved when Simon painted over his to match the others.
Greg Mohr, president of Adventures at Sea, was ecstatic, as a
gondolier who sings Italian love songs, to see the results of the
"I love it, just love it," Mohr said. "I love the different
depictions of gondolas. I love the use of color. The sky is very
dramatic. I think it draws people's eyes to it. I think it will
really add an extra element [to the dock]."
While the student artists were mostly a shy bunch, preferring to
let their artwork speak for itself, a few commented on the
"It was fun painting it," said Marcos Millan, 16. "I'm proud of
it. It keeps me out of trouble."
* DEIRDRE NEWMAN covers education. She may be reached at (949)
574-4221 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.