We are proud to unveil the beautiful, new mural at Bon Air Greenbrae, a joint collaboration with The Canal Arts. Our team at Bon Air envisioned a wall mural that would draw people to the back of the center to enjoy the amenities this common area offers, such as a bocce court, sitting areas, and gardens with stunning views of Mt. Tam. Our desire was to create a space that would invite people to gather and enjoy Bon Air.

Celebrating Bon Air’s 70th Birthday in 2022 was the ideal time to bring that vision to fruition. Under the recommendation of our partners at Marin Open Studios, we reached out to Rich Storek of Storek Studio/Architecture. Having collaborated with Rich on other successful ventures, he was eager to join us in the mural project and introduced us to The Canal Arts. We recently sat down with Rich, who served as project lead on this first-ever collaboration between The Canal Arts and a for-profit organization outside of San Rafael’s Canal District. Here, we share our conversation about the inspiration, process and people behind the mural, and the important work The Canal Arts is bringing to local artists and communities.

Bon Air: We’re thrilled with how the mural turned out and we’ve received so many compliments and comments. Can you share with us the inspiration behind the design and a bit about the process in making it come to life?

Rich Storek: It’s a terrific example of how a non-profit organization can collaborate with a for-profit entity to create a beautiful display of public art for the entire community to enjoy. We understood that the mural should tell the story of Bon Air’s beginnings in 1952 and celebrate the 70th Anniversary, its present and future. The beginning of the mural near Peet’s reflects the Center’s origins in 1952; the middle is an homage to the natural beauty of Marin and of course a colorful Mt. Tamalpais. The farthest end, 70 years later, is more opaque to suggest an unknown, yet wide-open future.

We selected four Canal Arts artists to collaborate on the design, Yuan Chen, Isidoro Angeles, Kathleen Edwards, Glenn Case, along with members from the Canal Families Art Saturdays. We collaborated with Center ownership to add details to bring the history of the Bon Air to life, wanting to create something that could live well beyond 2022 and Bon Air’s 70th Birthday. We first created a small-scale image that was photographed and projected at night to transfer the design to the wall. Then the painting began, with discussions of details and a color palette to create the vibrant scene. In all, it took a month for the Bon Air mural to come to life. Under the window, you can find a QR code that links to a timeline that tells the history of Bon Air and the Schultz family in Greenbrae, and one that connects to thecanalarts.org.

Bon Air: You’re very passionate about San Rafael’s Canal District, its community, and the work of The Canal Alliance. Can you share more about how you became involved and how The Canal Arts came to be?

Rich Storek: Marin is a small, affluent, county, that depends on the Canal community workforce, yet so many residents are unaware of San Rafael’s Canal District’s underserved, but very lively, community. Living conditions are difficult, and overcrowded. The Canal Alliance’s heroic efforts promote improvements in healthcare, legal, social services, living conditions and education. I began working with Canal Alliance as an architect, designing and constructing their buildings, and it’s these buildings that inspired our first mural projects and ultimately The Canal Arts several years ago. The Canal Arts, together with the community leadership group Voces del Canal, helps provide Canal families educational opportunities through monthly “Art Saturdays”, gatherings where we create art together. The Canal Arts provides a creative outlet for this immigrant-rich community and ensures that they are also paid well for their artwork. The Canal Arts is a coalition of fourteen Marin County organizations: educational, social and community service, arts and business, all supporting the creation of lively, inspiring public art, primarily in East San Rafael and the Canal.

Bon Air: How can people get involved or support The Canal Arts?

Rich Storek: We do receive some funding from the California Arts Council, Marin County and the City of San Rafael, but we rely heavily on volunteers, donations and private fundraising as well. I invite everyone to visit our website – thecanalarts.org – for more information on all our projects and opportunities to get involved with The Canal Arts, and to donate.