Watsonville artist Bruce Harman puts the finishing touches Tuesday on a mural at the new Adult and Children’s Behavioral Health facility on Freedom Boulevard. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—A new mural against an exterior wall of the new Adult and Children’s Behavioral Health facility in the County complex on Freedom Boulevard is nearing completion. 

Watsonville artist Bruce Harman said he started the massive work at the end of August and has squeezed in pockets of hours sprinkled over the weeks to work on it. On Tuesday he was up on a scaffolding adding detail to the painting’s sunset.

“I am more of an easel painter,” he said. “But I have completed a number of murals in our county including nine works on the traffic signal boxes in Capitola.”

The 30-by-18 foot mural is being painted in oil, an uncommon medium for an outdoor piece, which are typically painted in acrylics.

“When it dries in a few weeks, I’ll come back and apply a clear coat seal,” Harman said. “There’ll also be four free-standing butterfly sculptures in the ground in front of the mural. I think it will come together nicely.”

An important aspect Harman wanted to include in the art, he said, was creating a gentle, calming tone in the soft lighting and slowly approaching small wave, all encased inside the mural’s Trompe l’oeil rendition of a giant butterfly. Trompe l’oeil is a style of painting that translates to “fool the eye,” where an artist can trick your eyes into seeing something with depth, rather than a flat surface.

“We want people visiting this place to feel welcome and at ease as they pass by the mural for their visits here,” Harman said.

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New landscaping, walkways and earthen tones are shown at the entrance to the new complex. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Harman added that the mural will also serve as a springboard for an ongoing, hands-on art project for young clients of the center where kids will able to engage in adding color to small butterfly panels when they come to visit the Behavioral Health Office.

Harman, who was born in Puerto Rico, said he received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1980.

The mural graces the entranceway to the new Adult and Children’s Behavioral Health facility, 1430 Freedom Blvd., suite F, which opened about two weeks ago.

The facility will offer a full suite of adult and child mental health services, as well as behavioral health services. It will also be the base of the County’s new mobile crisis unit for South County youth.

County officials will have an open house sometime in November.

For information on the services provided at the Adult and Children’s Behavioral Health facility visit https://bit.ly/30EeYiw.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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