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SAN PEDRO : Youths Take the Plunge--With Sea Mural

March 30, 1995|SUSAN WOODWARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Steep cliffs plunge into an underwater world thriving with marine activity. A whale breaches from the ocean depths, eels and dolphins arch their silvery bodies, and bright orange fish and crabs peak out from strands of kelp.

This 32-foot scene now adorns a hallway wall at Point Fermin Elementary School in San Pedro, the yearlong work of parents, teachers and local muralist Trace Fukuhara. But it was the approximately 400 youngsters at the school who painted the mural, each adding dabs and strokes, third-grade teacher Linda Ross said.

Ross initiated the project last spring, working with the school's Parent Teacher Organization to come up with a theme. She wanted the children to work on something that was an artistic and academic learning experience.

She said the children designed the painting by drawing sea creatures on butcher paper. Dozens of parents and residents in the harbor community saw the mural take form as they supplied paint, paintbrushes and their time.

But most important was securing a muralist to help.

Fukuhara, a San Pedro artist, has painted several murals in the area, particularly in Long Beach. His works include "The Melody of Life" at the Long Beach Senior Center and "Harmony," a 76-foot-long piece on the Promenade in downtown Long Beach.

The artist has donated more than 100 hours to the school project.

"I drew the outline in white paint and the kids painted in the colors," said Fukuhara, whose brother is a friend of Ross and works down the road at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. "Then I came in and started detailing it for . . . correctness."

Ross said the mural is already being used by Point Fermin students who are studying marine science. And the project has given the children an opportunity to learn more about art, she added.

"I think it's really nice because it looks just like the sea," said Jason Gregori, 9, as he gazed at the painting, to be dedicated on Tuesday. "It looks like there's animals from all different places."

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