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By C. Jayden Smith

The San Clemente City Council last week unanimously approved the installation of two murals on the soon-to-be renovated Snack Shack at the end of the municipal pier. 

The murals, conceptualized by local artist and resident Jim Parkhurst, will be located on the southern side of the concession stand, facing the ocean, and the inland-facing northern side. Depicted on the southern side will be a two-man crew participating in the dory races at the San Clemente Ocean Festival, and a “Snack Shack & Tackle Box” sign concept will be on the north.

Through PierPride Foundation’s application for public art that was reviewed by the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Department, Parkhurst’s art will be a part of the ongoing renovation to the facility at the end of the pier.

The foundation placed a call for artwork in June 2021 as part of its ongoing “Art on the Pier” program, which was also responsible for the octopus painting on the pier restrooms’ utility door.

Amber Gregg, a PierPride director, said the team was looking for art that spoke to the character and history of the town—something they found in Parkhurst’s “Dory Race” piece among 15 other submissions.

She had already known of Parkhurst’s art through a previous collaboration in which he painted a utility box in the Los Molinos Business District during her time at the city’s Planning Department. 

“He has a great way of connecting San Clemente history and putting it in a medium that is just beautifully done,” Gregg said. “The dory boat race (is) just so quintessentially San Clemente and very unique to the community, and the colors that he used in it were just beautiful.”

For the mural on the stand’s north side, the concept will feature the concession signage, as well as water in the background that blends with the real ocean below the pier. 

Parkhurst, who has lived in San Clemente for decades after living in Manhattan Beach, often does murals of surfing- and ocean-related subjects.

For the PierPride entry, he was inspired by the historic San Clemente Ocean Festival and the desire to combine both dynamism and simplicity into one piece. He created an interesting visual on an irregular and challenging canvas such as wood siding. 

“That’s where I came up with two guys in a Dory race, and I manipulated it so that they’re kind of punching through a wave, basically, and then having the whitewater splashing beyond the square,” he said. 

PierPride had chosen Parkhurst in September, three months after the submission period had closed. For the local artist, those three months of waiting to hear back made him think the foundation had selected another artist’s submission. 

To Parkhurst, the most fun part of the creative process is finalizing both the initial concept design and the mural itself, and seeing them come to life. 

Conversely, he said that staring at a large, blank canvas and wondering how he will attack it presents significant difficulty, with the unknown being how everything will play out. Another intricacy of the process is applying color, standing back and seeing the progress, which underlines that art is vastly different from science. 

“Each one is like it has its own journey,” Parkhurst said. “I have approached many murals, and no two are ever the same as far as how I approach it.”

When finished, he believes the southern mural will be a focal point for those spending time near the end of the pier and hopes that it will inspire feelings of excitement for visitors.

Gregg said the renovations to the Snack Shack as a whole will benefit what she sees as an important asset to have, especially with the services it provides to residents and visitors alike on one of “California’s last municipal fishing piers.”

There is no official timetable for Parkhurst to start painting the murals, as the city is still actively improving the concession facility.

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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