A view of the Knowlton Mural
April 11, 2006:
The telling of the history of a visual medium requires a visual approach. That is one of the main tenets of the mission of the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History. Signage announcing the museum to casual tourists and visiting movie fans will also use this technique. Local artists will have the opportunity to be part of the process and have their work on view for many to see.The Board of Directors of the Museum has announced the creation of a mural telling the film history of the area as one of the major pieces of signage for the Museum. Working with renowned muralist John Knowlton of Bakersfield, an active participant in many of the mural projects in Bishop, the Museum has commissioned a mural nearly one hundred feet long and nine feet high.The design that Mr. Knowlton has created shows the Alabama Hills on the left. They have been the site of the making of countless ads, commercials and feature films since 1920. A large piece of film unrolls mysteriously from the dark depths of the rocks and curls across the mural, being pulled by a camera car similar to those used in the area during the 1930's.John Knowlton's design for the car is based on actual stills of camera cars working in the area. There happens to be on of these cars in Chalfant Valley, but so far the owner has not been interested in making it available to the Museum for display.The film as it unwinds has several frames, each of which will contain one reproduction or interpretation from a scene of one of the most familiar and classic films made here. Besides westerns starring Roy Rogers, John Wayne and Tom Mix, the artists designing the frames will have Gunga Din, Bad Day at Black Rock and Tremors to use for inspiration.It is the hope of the Board of Directors that local artists will step up and be willing to be partners in this mammoth undertaking. Chris Langley, Executive Director of the Museum, stated "We think the mural, seen from the south, will announce to travelers unfamiliar with the museum exactly what the museum is about without any words at all. It will stimulate their curiosity. We want local artists to have their work represented in the different frames of the mural."When you combine it with the neon signs announcing 'Film Museum' down both sides of the tower, the illuminated movie marquee with chase lights, and the six neon lit poster bays, it will be eye-catching both during the day and at night."The mural will be illuminated at night as well. The painting of the mural requires a budget in excess of $30,000. The Dow Villa Motel has already come up with a $10,000 gift to kick off the project and plans are proceeding quickly. Hopefully the mural will be underway next month but will undoubtedly take several months or more to complete. Knowlton has said the individual artists can use either acrylics or oils and he has thoroughly research the preservation and upkeep of the mural, exposed to south facing storms, wind and sun as it will be.Individuals interested in helping with the projects and artists up to the challenging of undertaking the creation and painting of individual panels showing specific films should immediately contact the Film Museum Office at 760-876-9909 with contact information and a portfolio of work."We think this will serve the purposes of the Museum well," Langley commented. "It will also present a wonderful community experience. We think people will come by to watch, as well as help, and the mural will be a kind of legacy for individuals in our community of Lone Pine at this time."