Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Community art project adds decorative touches to Lucerne park

In the foreground, a decorative wall at the Lucerne Community Art Project, with the decorative bench and arch in the background. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




LUCERNE – A portion of Lucerne is getting a new look thanks to a public art effort.

Community members of all ages are taking part in the Lucerne Community Art Project, which is being built at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Highway 20, on the edge of Lucerne Creek Park.

Natural building expert Massey Burke is overseeing the effort, which is building a community bench with a small arch and decorative walls with earthen building techniques, including adobe and cob.

The project began May 9 and will run through this Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. daily.

On the project's first weekend, volunteers started off by making about 200 of the nearly 300 adobe bricks that will be used in the project, said District 3 Supervisor Denise Rushing, who spearheaded the effort.

Burke said she's seen a wide variety of community members dropping by during the days to help – from seniors to small children and their parents.

She said the red clay-laden soil being used for the bricks came from Tom Carter's Upper Lake property.

Burke is an experienced natural builder who took part in creating an arch of earthen materials that was temporarily featured in an exhibition on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Clearlake Oaks residents Bill Rett and Judy Barnes have been faithfully making the trip – mostly on weekends but with an occasional weekday thrown in – to work on the project and learn natural building skills.

“That's why we got interested in this – because we wanted to learn the techniques,” said Rett.

Barnes said the project has moved along “faster than I thought it would.”

Just over the last week the arched bench has popped up, with the decorative walls and a decorative feature on the Lucerne Creek Park sign also quickly coming together.

Barbara Hepburn of Hidden Valley Lake has made the trip every day to work on the project.

She said she's part of Burke's “building tribe,” which is creating structures for Sol Fest at Hopland's Solar Living Institute.

Hepburn took natural building classes from Burke previously, but she said the only way to really learn the technique is to get out and do it.

This week she was up to her elbows in natural clay and stray, and using her hands to shape the materials on the frame of the arched bench.

Hepburn said not only is she learning more, she's helping teach others, “and realizing I know more than I thought I did.”

Volunteers hope to take what they learn and put it to work on their own projects. Rett said he and Barnes want to build a small arched bench seating area like the park's at their own home.

Burke said the project is right on schedule. Because things have moved along well, she said she's thinking of adding some additional structural details.

She also is going to have a garden party on Sunday.

Fifteen yards of topsoil have been donated to the park beautification effort, and on Sunday afternoon – after it starts to cool off – community members are invited to come and help plant a garden.

Burke suggests those who want to participate should bring shovels, wheelbarrows, drought-resistant plants and plenty of ideas.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




Barbara Hepburn mixes the natural building materials used in the Lucerne Community Art Project on Eighth Avenue and Highway 20. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

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