After 10 years as an artistic showpiece at the entrance to LVMC, a colorful mural depicting the History of Medicine in the Lompoc Valley is getting a makeover.
Thanks to the generosity of the Lompoc Hospital District Foundation, the 15-year-old mural is being repainted and revitalized by Lompoc Mural Society Curator Ann Thompson.
Originally, Ann was set to complete the restoration of the 120-foot-long mural by the June 2020 anniversary marking 10 years of the hospital being open at 1515 East Ocean Ave. But the COVID-19 pandemic led to delays and the mural is now due to be fully renovated by early 2021.
The mural, which contains portraits of people and depictions of events instrumental to Lompoc’s healthcare history, was originally painted by Master Artist David Blodgett of South Bend, Indiana. Painted on panels, the mural was mounted on the wall that led to the entrance of the former hospital site at 508 East Hickory Ave. It was painstakingly moved and re-installed when the new hospital opened.
The need for renovation became apparent about a year ago, as the mural faded and peeled.
“I was excited about it because I could already see it, the way it should be,” Ann said. “In my mind’s eye, I could see it.”
She was concerned about the time it would take to re-do the more intricate areas of the mural, such as the extensive lettering in some areas.
“That’s unforgiving,” she says. “If you don’t get that right, it just jumps out at you … I do a panel and a half every week. Each panel is like a small mural.”
As she’s worked through wind and heatwaves, Ann has been buoyed by the visitors who stop to see what she’s doing on the project, especially parents bringing children to watch her work. One woman likened viewing the update to a sermon she heard at church, about the renewal of one’s body and spirit. Another visitor said it was as if the area that was repainted had been watered like a plant and was blooming.
“The constant appreciation, it’s really uplifting. It makes me feel really humbled. Parents come with their kids, and I look at the child’s face full of awe. It’s very humbling. It really makes me feel so good. Thank God he gave me this gift.”
An artist since she was a child, Ann finds that people enjoy art, though they may not often speak aloud about it.
“There is appreciation for it being done. I’m so glad the hospital decided to redo this.”
Ann finds her own determination and reasons to keep going.
“On days when I’m feeling tired or challenged, I ask myself, ‘If I were restoring this mural for God, would I cut corners, ignore details, rush through a particularly challenging section? No Way!’ It’s at those moments that I take a deep breath, dig deeper and remind myself that I’m not working alone. Each day, I say a prayer asking for strength and guidance, because sometimes it’s not easy trying to figure out how to achieve the goal for the day. Also, every day it helps to take a photo of the progress. It inspires me to stay motivated being able to remind myself of where I started that day and where I finished.”
As Mural Society Curator, Ann has also renovated the Lompoc Fire Chief mural, the Monarch butterfly mural and the Temperance mural. She did a complete restoration of the Chumash Indian mural and has repainted several others.
Foundation President Alice Milligan said she has enjoyed watching as the mural is restored.
“I was so pleased when the mural was able to be relocated from the Hickory Street location to the present location,” Milligan says. “Itcertainly depicts the history of medicine in the Lompoc Valley.The Foundation is pleased to be a part ofthe mural's restoration.It is a perfect setting for the entrance to our beautiful hospital.”
To help the Lompoc Hospital District Foundation continue its educational and philanthropic efforts, please consider a tax deductible to the Foundation at P.O. Box 883, Lompoc CA 93438.