What was once an unsightly rusted out water tank in El Segundo has become the backdrop for a stunning mural by legendary artist John Van Hamersveld.
The artist and a crew of workers were busy this week erecting 51 giant 32-foot tall sections of the colorful mural that will stretch clear around the water tank 510 feet in circumference.
An unveiling ceremony will take place Saturday, April 28. The work, commissioned by the Department of Water and Power together with the City of El Segundo, came together as a way to beautify what had become an eyesore, said El Segundo Mayor Suzanne Fuentes.
“John is a champion and an artistic visionary for El Segundo,” Fuentes said. “We are so proud of this beautiful and momentous work of art he created.”
The mural, in classic Van Hamersveld fashion, depicts California surf culture in solid strokes of colored images placed together in a computer generated collage.
Best known for his creation of the Endless Summer movie poster, Van Hamersveld is well-known for many other iconic images including the album cover to the Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour.
While he has created large murals before, such as one in Hermosa Beach on 14th Street, and the frieze surround on the Manhattan Art Center in Manhattan Beach, the El Segundo water tank represents his biggest project.
Van Hamersveld said he was inspired by his formative years growing up in El Segundo and wanted to pay homage to local surf legends Hap Jacobs and Dale Velzy.
“I met them when I was 13 going to high school there,” Van Hamersveld said from his home in Palos Verdes. “They built my first surf board which created this amazing adventure.”
A graduate of El Segundo High School in 1959, Van Hamersveld was inducted last year into the school’s hall of fame. It was there during the ceremony that he was approached about creating the mural on the water tank.
Printed on mesh, the 360-degree mural is attached to the rusted surface using a giant frame to which each panel is then attached.
“Everyone had to figure out how to do it,” Van Hamersveld said. “For them to figure out how to wrap that tank is just mind blowing.”
As each panel went up this week, Van Hamersveld said he could hardly contain his excitement.
“I have to watch like three cowboy movies just to calm down,” he said.
Fuentes said the mural, visible along Grand Avenue and presumably by airplanes passing overhead from LAX, is already creating a buzz around town.
“The art is so beautiful and bright and lively,” Fuentes said. “Driving up and down Grand Avenue to see it now brings instant smiles to everyone’s face.”