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Supporting Community Service through Murals at Hearts and Minds Activity Center

Hearts and Minds Activity Center, near the Valley Medical Center in San Jose, is a very special place that provides activities and daytime care for people suffering from memory loss.  Integrated Project Management Company has long provided outreach and support for the exceptional goals of Hearts and Minds. Their most recent project was funding the installation of large murals to brighten their walls and garden.

The mural project came to the attention of Patricia Johnson purely by chance at a party organized by one of the Alameda ArtWorks artists.  One of the guests, Stacy Townsend of Integrated Project Management Company (Silicon Valley Branch office team that worked with Hearts and Minds, through our philanthropy effort called “Integrated Project Mercy) was organizing the project and during the afternoon, she explained it to Patricia Johnson who offered to help locate a mural team. After trying unsuccessfully to locate local mural painters, Ms Johnson suggested that her very accomplished art students would be able to complete this project, and her offer was accepted.

Ms Johnson’s art students had created a mural for the Middlebrook Garden on Race Avenue near the studios, so she was confident that they could manage the work, but there was no specific imagery suggested. So, to make the project more personal for her students, ages 12 to 15, she had them work individually or in groups to produce a set of “To Scale” illustrations of scenes in nature.  Their wonderful ideas ranged from mountain wildlife to California Land and Seascapes, rendered in full color, and were enthusiastically received by the participants in the Hearts and Minds programs who served as the judges. After consideration, TWO of the designs tied for selection, “A California Super Bloom” and “An Underwater Ocean Scape.” 

At the follow-up planning meeting the two winners were discussed and it was clear that the facility wanted both murals. With that in mind, Integrated Project Management Company willingly found more money in their budget to sponsor both murals, and the Super Bloom mural was extended to two outdoor walls, so the single mural project was launched for not two, but three murals. 

The Studio 7 art students are excited about learning the ins and outs of mural production. Their first job was to work out more detail in their designs, adding another section to the Super Bloom design, and adding more marine creatures to the Underwater scene. As we worked out these changes it was decided that the oceanscape should reflect the local Pacific shore so it was reworked to reflect the beauty and abundant sea life of the Monterey Bay Kelp Forests. The indoor mural was begun at the height of summer but the work went well because the teams were able to take advantage of the air conditioning in that room. Working mostly on Saturdays through July and August, 6 currently enrolled art students, 4 of their friends, one artist from the ArtWorks, and several parents jumped in to render a beautiful underwater environment, adding many types of fish, jellyfish, octopus, turtles, and a sea otter, all native to our local shores. When finished, one of the parents who had not seen the original designs and did not know the subjects, commented that the mural wall looked just like the kelp forests where he used to scuba dive. We thought that was the highest of praise. The participants and staff of Hearts and Minds constantly comment on the beauty of the mural and all the marine life depicted.  In addition to the project, Pat Johnson is creating a memory workbook for the participants showing all the marine creatures in the mural to identify and count all the creatures. 

Student & Volunteer Artist Working on the Mural

Complete Mural at Hearts and Minds Activity Center

The outdoor two-panel Super Bloom mural could not be started till October when the weather cooled down enough to work outside.  It had to be completed before the winter rains started in November,  so Pat, Marie Serda from ArtWorks, and Katie Nicholas, an artist and mother of one of Pat’s art students pitched in during the week to get the basics mapped out and the base colors painted. Then they all worked on subsequent Saturdays to direct the students on how to add the deeper colors of the flowers, shadow tones, clouds, and reflections. The result is a bright, exciting landscape that elicits constant, enthusiastic comments from the participants. 

And, as a follow-up to this mural, Pat, Katie, and Marie worked together to offer the participants a painting class based on the super bloom which was great fun and a hit with everyone. So from a chance encounter at a party, the Heart’s and Minds mural project resulted in three beautiful murals and many community service hours for the student artists. All in all a WIN WIN!

You can visit the Hearts and Minds Activity Center Website for more info about their community support. Feel free to contact Barbra DeLash at regarding the Annual Benefit Gala (May 18th) or general tour to learn about the place that serves the community.

Marie Serda, Patricia Johnson, Katie Nicholas

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