THE writing IS ON THE WALL01 December 2020 Written by By Christine Douglas
Published in December 2020 Articles
In early 2019, the Downtown Brentwood Coalition (DBC) was looking into commissioning three artists to create what would become a “wall walk,” adding beauty and interest to downtown buildings.
Lorin Baeta was happily working for Becky Bloomfield on a weekly basis, doing creative lettering on her sidewalk sandwich board that invited people into her wine bar. Becky was part of the DBC and was looking for recommendations for artists. The DBC already had one artist in mind, Lorin recommended Pat Businger and threw her name into the mix. They all submitted concepts and estimates for the walls to be adorned. As it turned out in the end, the DBC could only secure one wall, and they chose Lorin to be the one who would combine four of her submitted concepts to create a piece that perfectly illustrates the heart and soul of Brentwood, its culture, and people.
The wall on the side of the Del Sol building was chosen as the prime location for the mural. Measuring 16-by-60 feet, the top of the area was way too high to reach without a proper lift. Pete Jacoway is the president of the DBC and works at Del Sol; in fact, his grandmother owns the building that, in years past, housed the former Weathervane shop. He said he would handle the lift part. It was up to Lorin to make the art come alive and represent everything good about our town.
Lorin’s love for art was solidified once she graduated from San Jose State with a degree in graphic design. Her passion that boiled over from studying design as an art form became typography. Lorin furthered her use of type in art while working at Trader Joe’s throughout college and learned the anatomy of letters as she embellished the interior signage Trader Joe’s uses in-store. Lorin’s first commissioned job at Letterly Signs & Lettering was custom signage for her sister’s wedding. After moving to Brentwood in 2017, she went around to the downtown businesses and offered her services for free. Her fortunate meeting with Becky Bloomfield allowed her to be introduced to many more local business owners. Sticky Chicken inside the Emporium building took her up on her offer, and she created their mural inside. Soon, Lorin’s business blossomed and jobs poured in rapidly; four of the town’s utility boxes now showcase her talents. She went on to do work for Dino’s Sandwich Shop and Soleil Wood Fired Pizza. She later worked on signage for Sip and Scoop, Alluv Place, Beauty Lounge, Drenched, Mad Potters, Brass Tacks, Roadees’, Starry Nite Studios, Three Nunns Farm, and Urban Edge, all because of Becky.
“Creating a mural with a magnitude of 60 feet long was going to require much more work and resources than one would initially think.”
Creating a mural with a magnitude of 60 feet long was going to require much more work and resources than one would initially think. The DBC had only $8,400 granted to them by the city. Lorin made her case that you get what you pay for. The result was going to be a long-lasting, fantastic impression of our community shining from one of its biggest expanses–it was going to require a significant investment. Lorin’s reasonable estimate was for more than the $12,000 paid, most of which the city covered. Says Lorin, “We compromised so that the piece could be done, it was the DBC’s and my gift to the city.” The entire wall needed resurfacing before she could begin. Once it was ready, Lorin began planning.
She worked from grainy, old photos of the high school that had burned down but had stood from 1909-1929. Produce from the Farmers’ Market needed to make its way to the wall as well as hikers, California scenery, and bees in cherry blossoms. Veterans Park was a must to highlight, and beer glasses and a wine bottle with grapes added a special nod to our agricultural charms. A notable addition was the likeness of a young dancer from East County Performing Arts. An image of Gabrielle Koch will forever be poised on that wall. A part of the mural that catches the most attention is the picture-perfect wings of various species of local animals and insects that linger at the base of the wall. Locals love to place themselves between the vibrant wings and take selfies as they go about their day downtown.
“It was such a good feeling knowing that I was spreading a little joy in that way.”
Work on the wall was planned to start in late March. Then came the COVID-19 shutdowns. Around the same time, demolition began on the building next door. Fears of damage due to the construction caused a delay, with Lorin beginning the project in June. Next came the fires and the heat waves. During the first half of the mural, which was the top, Lorin worked from up on the lift. People would walk over and smile up at her daily, thanking her for beautifying their neighborhood. Often, folks would drive by and honk and wave. Says Lorin, “It was such a good feeling knowing that I was spreading a little joy in that way.” The lower half took three times longer than anticipated, but Lorin finally wrapped up the artwork by October 23.
Now that she is finished with the mural, her intention is to get back to the root of her business which is signage for businesses but also for weddings–welcome signs, seating charts, and place cards. Lorin shares, “2019 was crazy; it was my most lucrative year, but my work/life balance was all out of whack. My 10-year-old son, Enzo, is my sidekick, and as an only child, he was not thrilled to have to entertain himself during my busiest times. I’m more selective about the work I do now, but I still enjoy taking on wedding and business projects and personalizing seasonal gifts for happy customers. Now that life is less hectic, my son and his best friend have made it a habit to tag along to my events and set up their own table alongside mine, selling painted canvases and garden seeds. I had my own mother and her mom, my Nana, inspiring and nurturing my creativity and entrepreneurship from a young age, and I’m proud to pass those gifts on to my son.”
Photos by Melissa Van Ruiten