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June 29, 2022

Cutout mural installed at Watsonville Nature Center

WATSONVILLE—A crew from the City of Watsonville was hard at work Wednesday installing a new cutout mural next door to the Nature Center at Ramsay Park.

The 14-foot-tall piece, “Great White Egret,” was created by Salinas artist John Cerney and depicts a white egret about to take flight. It is made of a type of plywood called Medium Density Overlay, aluminum pipes and high-quality, fade-resistant paint. 

Plans were made to install the piece last year after the city approached Cerney, who is known for constructing similar murals on the sides of highways across the U.S. They were looking for a way to draw attention to the unassuming Nature Center building.

Cerney completed the mural inside his studio, where it sat for months. Rainy weather early in the winter prevented installation from moving forward. That is, until Wednesday.

“We are so happy it’s finally going up,” said Cristy Cassel-Shimabukuro of the City of Watsonville. “It’s a great addition to our center.”

Cassel-Shimabukuro said that safety was a major priority for installing the large piece. Cerney usually uses wooden reinforcements, but since the Nature Center sees a lot of foot traffic, the city wanted to be sure the egret was secure.

“We have reinforcements going into the ground about 5 feet deep,” Cassel-Shimabukuro said. “The safety of our guests is really important.”

The Watsonville Nature Center opened its doors in 2004, aiming to inspire and educate residents about the Pajaro Valley’s rich environment, as well as connect with Public Works regarding recycling and water conservation.

In addition to drawing attention to the center, the city hopes that Cerney’s mural will highlight the area’s wildlife, especially its birds.

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Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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