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dragon mural
Glendale News Press- February 27, 2007

Brushing up on school pride:
Daily High students are busy painting a two-story-tall mural showcasing their dragon mascot.

A two-story-tall mural being painted at Daily High School that depicts a green dragon swooping down from the sky and bursting through a brick wall isn't just a colorful addition to the campus. It's also emblematic of the challenges being met by the school's students.

Students were painting about 10 panels Tuesday that would eventually go up on a series of walls along an outside staircase.

"It's not just one person's work," said Zack Cargar, 18. "It's all of us. It's our work. We did it ourselves."

The tail of the dragon will wind back and forth down the side of a building, with sections of the dragon on walls coming down the staircase. Near the bottom of the staircase, the head will appear to be smashing through the wall, and then the final panel at the bottom of a staircase has the school's name in graffiti-art lettering.

"Initially we wanted it to be edgy, representative of the student body and be contemporary," art teacher Emily Goff said.

The mural will depict the school's mascot " the Daily Dragon " but it also represents the character of the school's student body, said Mark Makkouk, 18, who was painting the scales during art class on Tuesday.

"A lot of people that come to this school, it's because they had problems," he said. "The dragon is breaking through the wall because that's what we're doing here, breaking through challenges."

Goff and Roger Dolin, a professional muralist, had only a administrative role for the project, Goff said. The students formulated ideas, created designs and planned the project entirely on their own, she said.

"It's been an exercise in real-life skills, working with clients, making revisions, making compromises and presenting designs on a timely basis," Goff said.

Chris Sabino, 17, was in the classroom touching up the latest design for the lettering, which school officials have repeatedly sent back for revision due to concerns about the lettering looking "inappropriate."

Chris volunteered to create the lettering because he draws graffiti art in his journal. "I only do it on paper," he said. "I have my own little books. I keep it to myself usually."

But with the mural project, he will get a chance to show off his talents for the school " and for posterity.

The project be the continuation school's first mural since it moved into its permanent building next to the school district offices in August 2001, Goff said.

Art students at the continuation school have been designing and revising the mural since December. But the first splashes of color went up on Saturday, when students went to school to start the painting phase, Goff said.

Many of them take pride in their work and the rest of the school has been supporting them, she said.

"It's like the best class I've ever had," Zack said.

Glendale News Press- June 15, 2007

Leaving a legacy:
Ceramic mural at high school leaves a reflection of the past and points to an unknown future.
ceramic mural
Glendale High School student Christine Saakyan, 18, from left, ceramics instructor Christine Rose, and artist in residence Roger Dolin work together to assemble a ceramic tile mural at Glendale High School Friday afternoon. -- Alex Collins / News-Press
Departing seniors put up a ceramic mural at Glendale High School Friday depicting their drive toward the future and departure from the past.

The relief displays a landscape from the perspective of a student at the driver's seat on the road of life, ceramics teacher Christine Rose said.

"We all came up with the idea, since we're graduating and it's the perfect time to look into the future," said 17-year-old senior Lina Tovmassian, who was one of the advanced ceramics class students who helped create the work.

A sinuous road curves into the distance, and lining the journey are billboards with pictures of doctors and business professionals, images that represent the future, said Roger Dolin, the artist in residence who helped with the student project. The rear- and side-view mirrors reflect images of childhood and family life that the student leaves behind in his or her journey, he said. And there is a global positioning system device on the dashboard, representing the whole world of possibilities before the students, he said.

"It represents our whole chapter in life while we were here in school, from family and friends to things we can become," said 18-year-old Renia Paria. "It means, I think to me, all the potential we have."

Paria and eight other seniors were getting their hands dirty during their fourth period Friday helping Dolin put up the mural. The 4-foot by 8-foot piece is constructed of 36 square tiles that the students molded and painted themselves. Students mixed mortar at the work site, applied it to the back of the tiles, then pressed the tile against the brick wall. Work was slow because they had to wait for each row of tiles to be securely cemented on the wall before starting the next row.

The entire mural-making process took about two months of dedication from her students, Rose said.

Some of the ceramics students said their schoolmates do not take much notice of the 13 other ceramic murals on campus. The first mural the class produced, a relief map of the city, can be seen in the lobby of Glendale Unified School District's main office, Rose said.

But the most noticeable on campus is the mural on the bridge above the quad area, a large ceramic "Glendale" in block letters, Lina said.

"But I think this one will make people start thinking about it because it's life after high school," she said. "Like right now, I'm really nervous because now I'm going into the real world. I'm not safe in high school anymore."

The new mural is on a wall near the corner past the south side of the main bridge " where these few students will have created a lasting legacy at their school, Rose said.

"The best experience, besides the teamwork thing, is that they have a piece of themselves on campus," she said.

  • ANTHONY KIM covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at


    Sun Update- Solheim Lutheran Home Newspaper- Summer 2005

    Skilled Nursing Mural Unveiled to Rave Reviews

    residential home mural
    Residents Enjoy their New Scenic Vista
    Solheim Lutheran Home- Eagle Rock, California
    An overflow crowd of residents, painters, donors and guests braved the hot sun on May 15th, eagerly awaiting a chance to discover just how "their" canvas fit into the entire picture. Our new 255-foot mural delighted the crowd with its meandering river, lush foliage, charming animals and miniature Eagle Rock. Gerrie Meek, Solheim volunteer and the inspiration for the mural, shared her amazement at how [the mural] grew from a small idea to the large, successful project it became. Gerrie extends her thanks to "everyone who had a part in it - and there was a lot!"

    Solheim extends a sincere thanks to those who contributed financially to the mural's cost, and to the scores of volunteers who contributed over 1800 hours to this project. Painters included:

    Mural Environments Inc. - Roger Dolin and Anita Enriquez
    SLH Residents and Families SLH Staff and Board
    Eagle Rock High School Key Club
    Eagle Rock Seventh Day Adventist Church Pathfinders
    Eagle Rock Collaborative Beautiful
    Salem Lutheran School 6th Grade
    Southwest CA Synod Council and Staff
    Coldwater Canyon Prep Students
    Merton Avenue neighbors
    Glendale Community College Nursing Students
    Various Solheim and Eagle Rock Community Members

    Boulevard Sentinel- February 2004

    residential home mural
    The Tai Chi Mural in Progress- Eagle Rock, California
    ERNC To Hit The Walls- With Art

    Anita Hultman, Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council District 3 director and newly elected Vice President has been working with Mr. Roger Dolin of Mural Environments Inc., to come up with ideas for what hopefully will become a series of murals in the Figueroa corridor. The murals are to be painted using volunteer and student labor to keep the costs down, although Mural Environments Inc. will provide the artistic design and oversight at a much reduced rate.

    The City will sandblast and provide mural paint and supplies. Students from Oxy will help with the labor. Prep work will be what is needed form volunteers. Do to safety concerns and the proximity to the street, only two students at a time could assist with the mural painting.

    The first mural is proposed for a staircase at Buena Vista and Figueroa. The images are from photographs taken on World Tai Chi Day. The final proposal will be made to the City on Saturday, February 7, 2004.

    Los Angeles Times- January 28, 1998

    Artists Finish Mural at Boys and Girls Clubs

    Artists recently completed a mural at the newly opened Boys and Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley Kingston Branch in Mile Square Regional Park.

    Administrators at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center commissioned the seascape in the recreation center. The work was painted by artists Roger Dolin and Carey Friedley, who also fashioned a mural for the hospital.

    "In addition to providing a colorful background inside the facility, this mural creates an environment to capture the imaginations of children," said Barry s Arbuckle, chief executive officer for Orange Coast Memorial. "It also serves to ease any anxieties they may be experiencing and provide a tranquil setting to spend time in while they are away from home."

    After 13 years of planning, the Boys and Girls Clubs opened in May and serves children from Fountain Valley and Huntington Beech. -JOHN CANALIS

    The Wave- Huntington Beach- November 1998


    Underwater Mural Creates a Calm Atmosphere for Kindergartners at the Boys and Girls Club Kingston Branch

    By Elisabeth Deffner

    It's probably the only place you'll see a 10-foot-long eel grinning at you. And definitely the only place your response would be to smile back.

    The plump, sinuous eel winds its way around the fish, starfish and drifting kelp that are part of the mural in the Primary Program room of the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley's Kingston branch at Mile Square Park.

    The Boys and Girls Club offers a variety of before-and after school recreation programs for children in kindergarten through eight grade, director Tanya Grimes said. In the room with the mural, kindergarten-age children participate in activities ranging from cooking to computer games. The mural was an unexpected bonus, Grimes notes. The underwater-scape is really the result of Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center's sponsorship of the club. Dr. Barry S. Arbuckle, who holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and is the medical center's chief executive officer, said the Fountain Valley mural has quite a lengthy history.

    Mural Environments, the Van Nuys-based company that painted the mural, was originally recruited by Long Beach Memorial Medical Center to create a child-friendly ambiance. The entrances were painted with an aquatic theme, and a four-story-tall mural stretches along the stairwell from the ground floor to the top. All the layers of the ocean are represented, from treasure sunken in the sand to the water line beneath the sky.

    Similar ocean paintings were made in the pediatric unit at Orange Coast Memorial, Long Beach Memorial's sister hospital. "The same idea flowed over (into the Boys and Girls Club)," Arbuckle said. As part of the medical Center's sponsorship, Mural Environments painted a scene on the wall of the kindergarten room.

    Roger Dolin, the CEO of Mural Environments, said a lot of planning went into the mural. The colors, from the blues and aquas of the water to the browns and taupes of the sand, were carefully chosen for their calming effect. Translucent glazes, containing a small amount of pigment, were layered onto the base painting, adding depth and a realistic water effect to the mural. "It's one of the more subtle things, but we try to pay attention in every (detail)," Dolin said.

    Upon first viewing, a visitor may not notice such details, but as Grimes noted, "Everybody is kind of mesmerized when they first walk in." And what do the 5-year-olds think of it? Grimes says they like it, but they don't pay any special attention to it. "That's just kind of part of life for them," she said.

    Los Angeles Times, September 20 1996

    Fairy Tales Come to Life on Pediatric Ward Walls

    residential home mural

    Jacqueline Marr, 3, takes a long look at a Friendly Giant at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital.

    By Lesley Wright

    Hansel and Gretel, Jack (of beanstalk fame) and other fairytale characters have been admitted to the pediatric ward at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center. Mural artist Roger Dolin is painting their likenesses on walls, doors and walkways stretching the length of the 24 bed unit. The goal is to amuse and distract small patients visiting for injections, tests and other treatments, hospital officials said.

    "The idea was to make it fun," said Vicki Lombardo, director of maternal and children's health services. She had seen Dolin's work at a hospital in San Bernardino and recommended him when Fountain Valley Regional was planning to remodel its children's unit.

    "This is a piece of the therapy," Lombardo said. "If the children are upset and nervous, it makes therapy more difficult. This calms and distracts them."

    The brightly colored characters appear to be doing their job. Three-year-old Jacqueline Marr, admitted for a few days this week for an eye infection, took her mother on a tour to point out her favorite parts of the mural. "It's really neat for the kids," mother Kathy Marr said. "You can walk around and tell them stories."

    Though the artwork added about $12,000 to the cost of remodeling, making it a $20,000 project, officials of the private hospital felt that it would be worth the money by helping to make the facility more attractive in a highly competitive healthcare market.

    Dolin, 39, whose mural business is based in his Van Nuys home, has painted fantasies on the walls of nearly 30 hospitals between San Diego and San Francisco. He said he goes to healthcare seminars to learn more about his clients' needs.

    He and four assistants started working in Fountain Valley in July and hope to have the last castle completed by the end of this month.

    The fairytale scenes merge into each other so that young patients can walk through a forest along a path that leads to a town square and then to a castle, the nurses' station.

    To represent the city's ethnic diversity, the mural depicts not only European fairy tales but also images of Vietnamese and Chinese children.

    "I wanted to paint big, to paint for the other people instead of for myself," said Dolin, a fine arts graduate of Cal State Northridge who has been painting murals since he was a teenager. "I like knowing my work has a long term effect."

    Romantic Homes Magazine, July 1996
    Come discover a place where waking rivals the best of dreams.

    residential home mural
    Pretending comes easy in this life-sized dollhouse, complete with a working door and bell, as well as a beautiful garden mural running up the side.

    Photo © 1996 Blackstone Edge Studios

    By Donna Pizzi

    In the land where dreams come true, dollhouses are not just for play-they are for living too. At least that's true at this Los Angeles, California home, where two-year-old Samantha Deutchman's bedroom has been magically transformed into a miniature Victorian home, complete with English garden, climbing roses, real roofing tile, and a working doorbell.

    Samantha's mother, Cess Deutchman, decided early on that she wanted to give her children the best childhood possible. She dreamed up the idea for the miniature playhouse and sleeping area one night when Samantha was only one.

    "I grew up in the Philippines, playing in an outdoor dollhouse in keeping with the architecture and materials native to my island," explains Cess, "and I wanted something like that for Samantha. But I wanted it to be indoors where she could make more use of it." Since Cess loves English gardens and architecture, the Victorian idea quickly followed. "I was such a tomboy," recalls Cess with a laugh, "but my best friend was not. When we were growing up, there was always such a disparity between us. Later on, I felt like I'd missed out on all that little girl stuff." The Victorian dollhouse was Cess's way of ensuring that Samantha, her third child and long-awaited daughter, would not miss out. "For me, it's like a dream come true," sighs Cess. "It's so feminine-like cotillion debuts."

    To make her vision a reality, Cess worked with interior designer Maude MacGillivray. Together, the studied photos of English and New England homes, deciding to add touches like the picket fence, real siding, and actual roofing tile to give Samantha the feeling that she was truly in a home of her own. Scaled-down furniture-perfect for a doll's tea party-was added, as well as Dutch doors, hand painted wallpaper, and a window that looks into a second play area down the stairs.

    Cess's only fear was that her vision might not correspond with her daughter's, especially since her two older brothers eat, sleep, and dream of nothing but sports.

    What would happen, Cess wondered, if one day Samantha announced to her that she wanted a baseball diamond in her room instead of this very feminine dollhouse?

    Luckily for Cess, Samantha took to the idea immediately. Although she was not speaking in complete sentences when the room was finished, she was able to express her utter joy to everyone in sight by dragging them to her room, where she would exclaim in two-year-old fashion, "My home, my home."

    A year and a half later, Samantha is still mesmerized by the whole concept. In fact, playing house remains one of her favorite pastimes.

    "She likes having the feminine part of childhood, but balances it extremely well with athletics and gymnastics," says Cess. "I've seen her play with her dolls wearing a dress and her baseball cap."

    And so the dream lives on.

    Design Journal- November 1995

    Roger Dolin Creates Art Where None Was

    By Benjamin Cohen

    Changing walls from "blah" to "aaahh" all around the Southland is Roger Dolin, founder of Van Nuys-based Mural Environments and a proponent of using walls to liven environments for patients, patrons, homeowners and anybody else who tires of great blank spaces.

    En route to his vision, Dolin has taken the concept of mural and pushed it almost into the realm of "art installation" -for example, at Miller Children's Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Dolin's wall murals feature whales with three-dimensional protruding fins, boat hulls that bulge two feet into hallways, and wall-mounted authentic-looking life-preservers, the interior of which hold directional signs.

    "For every job I get, I try to push as far as the client will let me," says Dolin, a Encino native whose pants are as paint-scarred as any drop cloth. "I want something that will make a statement, but still be fanciful. And why should a mural be flat?"

    Hospital administrators, shop owners, Hollywood moguls and others agree, and are calling for Dolin to rescue them from dull and come up with something nice.

    Fanciful is definitely a Dolin trait, as is seen in a 16-foot-by-20-foot mural done recently for a Harley Davidson showroom. "The owner wanted a feeling of a street and riders riding off into it," says Dolin. "Plus, she wanted her cat and dog in it. But I ended up putting a pair of huge handlebars across the whole wall, which makes it look like you are the rider, looking at the scene. I couldn't figure out where to put the cat, so I finally put it in the rear view mirror. Sooner or later, you have to please the client.

    And Hollywood titan Steven Spielberg hired Dolin to paint children's bedrooms. "I painted on a two-story red barn, and pastoral scenes, including sheep, and pastures. It is very pleasant," said Dolin. Despite the brush with the movie-making giant, Dolin says he does not do much studio work.

    Sometimes Dolin finds himself not only painting walls but floors, as in the case of a Riverside nightclub-disco, which wanted a 25-foot-square Monopoly board for patrons to dance upon. "We not only did the floor, but we painted the walls in a deco style. I think there was some sort of dance, or game, they played, using the Monopoly board, but I am not sure," says Dolin.

    Fairly early in life Dolin decided he wanted to paint murals, and he says he decided that painting walls was for him even as a teenager. "There was always something about walls, and the ability to create art where none was," he says. "By high school I knew that painting murals was what I wanted to do."

    The great Mexican muralists were an inspiration, as was the work of Michelangelo, says Dolin. "Although I never wanted to do a ceiling, because I think it would hurt the neck too much," he says. "But if anyone really, really wants a ceiling done -okay, I'll do it."

    Dolin got his start in 1982, when he was employed by a space-planning firm. The company's owner knew of Dolin's then untapped talent, and tapped Dolin to do murals in his own home.

    "I worked for about nine months on that job, working in the evenings. Basically, I would work all day, and then go to his place at night to work on the murals," says Dolin.

    The look was a street scene in Chicago, with storefronts, windows and cars -a bunkbed was painted to look like a bus. A closet was painted to look like the "el" or elevated train, and interior lights were painted to look like street lights.

    Dolin's first real job might have been his last, but soon the space-planning firm went out of business, forcing Dolin upon his own resources.

    "I got a list from ASID (American Society if Interior Designers) and basically went from door-to-door. Yes, I was unannounced. I guess that took some chutzpah," says Dolin now. He showed the pictures of his one job, and of murals he had done in college at Cal State Northridge. (Sine then, his wife Nancy, has taken over marketing duties for the Dolin enterprise.)

    Dolin found himself well received on the early marketing missions, even if jobs did not always materialize. "Maybe because artwork is more interesting to look at than other kinds of things. Everybody was always friendly, although not everybody called me back for work."

    Still, the jobs came in, including a Valentine's Day special for the gift shop Aahs! On Sunset Boulevard, which included a large cupid's arrow extending form a store-side billboard into the store itself-one of the first efforts of Dolin's that announced that murals are not only two-dimensional. "We put an angel on the inside of the store," remembers Dolin. "The whole look was very forward, and the changes made for a very positive ambiance in the store."

    The 3-D Dolin look is very evident at the Long Beach Children's Hospital, which even includes a ship hull bulging from a wall by about two feet. The hull features a portal, about three feet off the floor-just high enough to encourage children to peer in.

    When they do, they see a scene, lit by ultraviolet light, of friendly animals scurrying and hiding in the ship's bilge. The animals' eyes are painted to glow in the ultra violet dark. "The children are always drawn to that portal," says Dolin. "It's hard to resist the temptation to look into something."

    Not far from the ship's hall is a 100-foot-long sea serpent, lining a hallway, and converting an otherwise institutional setting into an oceanfront harbor. The dozens of Dolin-painted animals always look friendly-even the sea serpent-and Dolin explains that is his want, but also what was required by the Children's Hospital. "This is not a place that you want scary, you want it reassuring. And that is the look we have."

    Dolin's success in hospitals is encouraging him to seek markets in casinos and hotels, two related markets he has not yet tapped. "In hospitals, there is extensive use of directional signs, because, of course, you have so many people coursing through the hospitals, many for the first time. It is the same in casinos and hotels, says Dolin. "What I can do is create a theme, and also put the signs into the theme."

    Sports stadiums are another venue that could easily use the Dolin murals-again, there are crowds of people walking around, who don't really know where they are. "That would be a great application," says Dolin. "Of course, we would paint baseball players at baseball stadiums or football scenes for a football field." In fact, Dolin has already painted sports-theme murals for ballplayer's homes, including one fellow who wanted his game room painted to look like a baseball stadium. "People in the front rows were done sort of in nostalgia, so as to look like they were from the 1920's, 1930s or 1940s. In the further rows back, the fans become more modern," recalls Dolin. "We used sepia tones for the older periods, and color for the modern periods."

    Price is always a tricky call for Dolin, because the project-length and difficulty are not always apparent. "I have never really charged by the square foot. It more depends what the client has in mind, and how much they are willing to spend. I am quite willing to stay within a budget," he says.

    Sometimes Dolin will restrict himself to painting the difficult sections of a mural or room, and turn over related tasks, such as wall glazing to others.

    "That's another way we can bring a project in on a budget," he says.

    Unfulfilled goals of Dolin's are to paint the entire side of a large office building, or to paint a freeway wall. "It would be nice to do something on the scale that usually just isn't possible in most settings. I suppose everybody has an idea in their professions of doing something really big."

    Anybody out there have an office building needing a very large mural?

    Dolin says he is in love with murals, but would also like to try his hand someday at a canvas art, and putting on a "serious" show at a gallery.

    "Sure I would love to do that-but I also love doing the murals. This is what I am concentrating on now."

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