Ocean Mural Makes Splash

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Wyland TruckBroadview residents won’t have to invest in a plane ticket to get a glimpse of the ocean this summer.

They only have to journey to a parking lot under the Roosevelt Road bridge west of 25th Street to see a humpback whale slipping through green seaweed with her calf or light dappling the back of a mother blue whale as she breaks the surface of the water, rising for air.

The serene sight – painted on the canvas of a semi-trailer by internationally renowned marine wildlife artist Wyland – will be on display in the National Van Lines parking lot, 2800 Roosevelt Road, through this summer.

At first glance, the seascape seems out of place nestled among the heavy concrete pylons and industrial storefronts off Gardner Road, and that’s exactly the point.

Wyland and companies like National Van Lines that support his work hope to teach people to appreciate and conserve the beauty of the oceans regardless of where they live.

It appears the idea is catching on. “We’re getting lots of phone calls from people who live in the neighborhood or see the trailer when they drive over the bridge,” National Van Lines spokesman Jorja Coulter said. “Everybody wants to know why it’s there and who painted it.” Coulter said National Van Lines has supported the artist and his efforts to raise consciousness and funds to preserve the oceans since the early 1990s.

The muralist has dedicated his life to painting life-size portraits of the underwater world – an ambitious project considering the humpback and whales that serve as models for the paintings are larger than a city bus.

Wyland is perhaps best known for his attempt to airbrush 100 walls in the United States with gargantuan murals of underwater life. One of those murals graces the walls of the Hotel Intercontinental in Chicago.

He painted the trailer for National Van Lines as a thank-you for their support in 1993 and 1994, but many residents may never have seen it until now for two reasons.

Until now, the trailer has been either touring the country, hauling the tons of equipment needed to paint the multi-story murals, or snuggled between other trailers on the lot to protect the detailed job from the elements.

Last year, National Van Lines donated the trailer to serve as a mobile classroom for the Wyland Ocean Challenge of America, a massive education campaign that blended science and arts in the hope of fostering an appreciation of the waters among children.

Even in landlocked Broadview, the mural has managed to peak interest in the underwater world.

“I’m really thrilled to have something like this because many people in this area are not interested in saving the environment,” said Winchester resident Anne Aquilar, who lives just a few blocks from the company. “Maybe this will make people realize that when its gone, its gone.”

National Van Lines’ officials said people are welcome to stop by and take a closer look at the mural while the trailer is parked in the lot.

More information on the Wyland foundation is available by going to wyland.com.