HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA — The little stucco bungalow that serves as the Sunset Beach Post Office may not be architecturally impressive, but it is beloved by the citizens of this small neighborhood in Huntington Beach. And considering the community’s artistic reputation, it just wouldn’t seem right if their Post Office looked... well... ordinary. And it doesn’t, thanks to Sunset Beach Postmaster Corinne Brubaker.
Back in 2010, Brubaker set up a booth at the annual Sunset Beach Art Festival where she introduced a contest to find a mural design to grace the newly-painted, canary-yellow walls of her facility. Now, two years and several quarts of acrylic paint later, Brubaker’s idea and the talents of three local artists is on permanent display — not just for nearby residents and customers, but for the thousands of people who drive past the Sunset Beach Post Office on busy Pacific Coast Highway.
The building’s southwest wall depicts a sandy path leading to a lifeguard tower overlooking an indigo Pacific Ocean, where Catalina Island reclines on the horizon. Fittingly, given the name of the community, the sky is awash in a tangerine and yellow sunset. This is the work of mural contest winner Katy Brack, who along with her daughter, her art teacher and other volunteers, painted the side of the building, including a door and window.
The scene has special meaning for Brack, a resident of Huntington Beach. It was her first view of the Pacific Ocean when she visited ten years ago on a trip from her native Great Britain. Although Brubaker selected Brack as the mural contest winner, she felt strongly that some of the other entries also deserved a place in the sun. Fortunately, the Sunset Beach Post Office has three exterior walls that are visible to the public.
So the northwest wall sports another mural, this one featuring a flock of pelicans skimming above a white-capped sea and silhouetted against a fiery sunset. General contractor and budding artist Mel Rice completed the work with assistance from his grandson. Rice said that he designed his mural to be broad, bright and uncluttered so that people can take it in at a glance as they drive by.
The third work of outdoor art was created by artist and designer Enzo Palagyi, who re-imagined a sign on the front of the building as an oversized Sunset Beach postmark stamped on a twilight sky. Since the sign is removable, Palagyi had the luxury of completing it in oils in his own studio.
Brubaker is ecstatic with the results. All of the work took about six months to complete, during which time Brubaker has been on assignment in Lomita. Michael Heinrich, who is filling in for her, carried on the project and said the community has overwhelmingly embraced the new look. “Every day since the work began,” he observed, “customers have commented and praised the paintings.”
Since all of the art work was donated, Brubaker plans to recognize the three artists for their contribution to the community at an upcoming meeting of the Huntington Beach Art League. “Each one of these artists has created something special that we will be enjoyed for years to come,” declared Brubaker.
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