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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire, a landmark event that focused the nation’s attention on the health of our lakes, rivers, and waterways. In support of Cleveland’s efforts to promote a future of good water stewardship, internationally renowned marine life artist Wyland returned to Cleveland to retouch and revitalize his historical Whaling Wall mural on the Cleveland Public Power building on Interstate 90.
The mural, entitled “Song of Whales,” is part of the one of the Wyland Whale Wall project, one of the world’s largest arts-in-public places projects, with 100 life-size marine life murals created in a 30-year span in 17 countries. The Wyland mural for Cleveland spans more than 32,000 square feet and was completed in 1997 and dedicated by then Mayor Michael White. The Wyland Foundation, a 501 c3 non-profit public charity founded by Wyland, had proposed commencing the restoration effort during summer 2019.
“No Matter Where We Live, We Have An Impact On The Ocean”
The Whaling Wall project began in 1981 in Laguna Beach, California. These massive murals featuring the largest marine life on earth were intended to raise awareness about the upstream impacts of human activities on our ocean, lakes, rivers, and wetlands. They have been created for cities in countries from New Zealand to Brazil on sports arenas, skyscrapers, utility buildings, movie studios, and airports. All totaled more than one billion people see the murals every year and are reminded of the fragile beautiful of our global marine ecosystems. The murals have been painted on structures for two Olympic Games, including Beijing and Vancouver, and have been dedicated by presidents, astronauts, scientists, and other community community leaders.
The murals have been recognized as a national treasure in media around the world, including the U.S. House of Representative, United Nations, USA Today, the Today Show, National Geographic, and many others. Wyland, 62, remains dedicated to the belief that art and conservation can play a critical role in shaping attitudes and behaviors in the service of a healthier, more sustainable world.
Wyland and the Wyland Foundation restore murals based on the significance and profile of the mural. Examples of large-scale restorations include their work on the 55,000 square foot mural “Gray Whale Migration on the AES Power Plant in Redondo Beach. The mural, which is a southern California icon and seen by millions of people each year, was done in partnership with AES Corporation and the city of Redondo Beach over a period of one week. The restoration concluded with a mini-environmental festival and ribbon cutting.
The restoration process, which varies from wall to wall and may include powerwashing, patching, recolorizing, blending, refining details, and applying a fresh coat of epoxy sealant to reinvigorate the artwork for the public to continue to enjoy.
Special thanks to Cleveland Water, National Van Lines, Cleveland Public Power, PPG Paints, West Creek Conservancy, United Rentals, and the city of Cleveland. We at GRC donated the food for volunteers.