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‘Hope lives’ as artists create optimistic street art in various parts of Orange County

A chalk mural at Marina Park in Newport Beach
A chalk mural at Marina Park in Newport Beach is part a countywide street art initiative to unite the community through shared messages of hope. The participating artists have all been affected by cancer.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

City of Hope Orange County unveiled Tuesday its countywide campaign to decorate the region with images of hope as Californians pass the one-year mark of the first stay-at-home order issued in the state because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign is done in partnership with the Orange County Health Care Agency and other community organizations and businesses. More than 70 artists were recruited for the effort.

The initiative is called “Hope Lives in OC.”

“We’re not just experts in cancer care, but we have a tenet that there’s no good in healing the bodies if we destroy the soul in the process,” said Annette Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County. “When we were reflecting upon our community and all the things that have gone on in the last year with the global crisis, job losses, loss of life, we wanted to acknowledge that there’s hope on the horizon.”

“It’s been a difficult year but Orange County is resilient and strong. Our community members have stepped up and been there for one another,” added Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, who represents the fourth district.

Kami Moore and daughter Lanell look at a chalk mural at Marina Park in Newport Beach.
Kami Moore and her daughter Lanell look at a chalk mural at Marina Park in Newport Beach on Tuesday, March 2.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“Hope is evident and all around right now — in the continued commitment of our frontline heroes, researchers delivering vaccines and our residents who remain vigilant about wearing masks and practicing social distancing,” Chaffee said.

“My hope is that this public art initiative serves as an appreciation for all we have accomplished,” he added.

Each artwork is at least 8-by-8 feet. The organization said all participating artists have been affected by cancer.

Artist Amanda Lee Gibbs works on a portrait of her nieces in a parking lot by Disneyland.
Artist Amanda Lee Gibbs, 38, of Buena Park, works on a portrait of her nieces, who live in Kansas, in a parking lot located near vaccination lines at the Disneyland Resort Super POD site in Anaheim on Tuesday. City of Hope Orange County has launched a countywide street art initiative with more than 70 artists in partnership with Orange County Health Care Agency, local organizations and businesses.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Jenna Swerdfeger, a 20-year-old student at Laguna College of Art and Design, worked on three murals at Marina Park in Newport Beach, the Camp in Costa Mesa and the Disneyland Resort vaccine site. She received an email from her college promoting the event.

For the Disneyland Resort site, Swerdfeger used tempera paint to create a face wearing a heart-shaped mask with a rainbow design featuring the phrase “We heal together.”

“As artists, we have the duty to inspire and bring hope wherever we can and to demonstrate the beauty in the world, even in times like this,” Swerdfeger said.

When she was 5 years old, her paternal grandmother died of uterine cancer. Swerdfeger said she feels like she inherited her grandmother’s artistic sensibilities and saw this project as a way to honor her.

Artist Harmony Harris works on her chalk art piece inspired by "Tangled."
Artist Harmony Harris, 31, of Mission Viejo, removes tape revealing a black border to her chalk art piece inspired by Disney’s animated musical adventure film “Tangled” in a parking lot located near vaccination lines at the Disneyland Resort Super POD site in Anaheim on Tuesday. Harris and her older sister Amanda Lee Gibbs lost their parents and both sets of grandparents to cancer.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

A large portion of the volunteers came from the Orange County School of Arts. Students had the option to draw chalk murals at the sites or to create posters at home to be placed on big blue letters spelling out “Hope” at City of Hope center in Newport Beach.

Paige Oden, OCSA’s Visual Arts Conservancy director, said about 60 students participated.

“Our students were super excited to participate,” Oden said. “Their talent is their ability. This is just a great opportunity for them to reach out into their community and be able to support and uplift. It’s hard on teenagers to be in a pandemic ... and they left feeling fulfilled.”

Gyasi Ross, another artist, chose to contribute a song featured on the art initiative website.

The works can be found at the county vaccine super points-of-dispensing at Disneyland Resort, Anaheim Convention Center and Soka University. They can also be found throughout Orange County at places like John Wayne Airport, Marina Park, City of Hope Newport Beach and the Camp in Costa Mesa.

Art will also be appearing at the Orange County Fair & Event Center beginning March 4.

City of Hope is a not-for-profit research center for life-threatening diseases including cancer and diabetes.

TimesOC reporter Vera Castaneda contributed to this report.

A chalk mural at Marina Park in Newport Beach.
A chalk mural at Marina Park in Newport Beach is part a countywide street art initiative to unite a community through shared messages of hope.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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