Artist paints mural at Whittier’s Kennedy Park


February 21, 2015

WHITTIERA new mural by local artist Dennis McGonagle graces the newly refurbished Kennedy Park, 8530 Painter Ave.

It is the second new improvement at the park, a city spokesperson said.

The first was the installation of new playground equipment through the KaBOOM program, partnered with the Nestle Company, and installed by city staff and volunteers from Nestle, the Whittier Host Lions Club and Kennedy neighborhood residents.

McGonagle’s mural, which is on the park building, took more than a month to plan and a little over a week to paint, the spokesperson said.

Entitled, “A Walk in the Hills,” it begins with familiar scenes of the neighborhoods and hills of Whittier and then takes a magical turn into a mysterious, brilliantly colored jungle in South America, bursting with exotic, colorful flowers and plants. The jungle scene then turns the corner where it returns to a sunset view of Whittier from Hellman Park.

McGonagle was assisted in the project by dozens of painters who came to support a community paint-in to kick off the mural project. The volunteers brought all levels of experience from art school graduates to little children who had never painted before.

“Some of the volunteers kept coming back day after day to assist in the project,” McGonagle said. “Everyone was given the chance to paint that day and as a result, the wall absorbed a tremendous amount of creative energy.”

McGonagle was aided by his assistant, Tyler Kinnaman, who has collaborated on every mural project that McGonagle has undertaken dating back to his Whittier Museum mural in 2006.

Also supporting the project were professional painters who are his friends, including Don Forkner, Cynthia Nalbach, Marshel Copple, Terry McGonagle, Lark Hickey and Melanie Fries, who was vacationing here from Switzerland when the mural was getting underway.

McGonagle said he received valuable critical support from his former painting professor from Rio Hondo College, Jerry Romotsky.

“Jerry came to look at the work in progress and called me up with some excellent ideas,” he said. “Professor Romotsky’s suggestions helped transform the piece from a painting on a wall into a living mural.”

McGonagle said he is working on plans for a second mural in the park, a 65-foot timeline showing the history of Whittier from prehistoric times and extending far into the future.

“My main objective is to bring energy, color, and beauty to the park,” McGonagle said.

“Kennedy Park is undergoing a renaissance and I am happy to be part of that effort.”