Wyland Resurrects Original Whaling Wall in Laguna

Last week, Wyland began recreating his original Whaling Wall on canvas in its original location, adjacent to his gallery and the Hotel Laguna. Photo by Mitch Ridder

By Allison Jarrell | LB Indy

Acclaimed marine life artist Wyland surprised residents and visitors to Laguna Beach last week as he began recreating his first ever Whaling Wall mural on canvas in its original location, on the wall adjacent to his gallery and the Hotel Laguna.

Originally painted in 1981, the 4,000-square-foot mural launched the artist’s famed series of 100 life-sized marine life murals in cities around the world before it was subsequently painted over by the former property owner. After it was destroyed, Wyland recreated a smaller version of the mural in tile on the side of his beachfront home studio.

An image of Wyland’s original Whaling Wall mural, painted in 1981. Photo courtesy of Wyland

Wyland posted a video last Thursday announcing the new, but familiar, project in the parking lot of the Hotel Laguna.

“Well, it was 38 years ago on my birthday, July 9, that we dedicated the first of my 100 Whaling Wall murals, right here in Laguna Beach,” Wyland said. “A few years later, they actually whitewashed it, and I was able to do a tile mural of the Whaling Wall. But right now, I have a chance to recreate it for the city of Laguna Beach, for all the people that love the Whaling Wall project, and I want to thank Mo [Honarkar], the owner of the Hotel Laguna, who’s developing an incredible restored hotel, for allowing me to recreate the original whaling wall on canvas. This is for our great community, and I’m really proud to present this.

“It took me 27 years to paint the Whaling Walls,” Wyland reflected. “And it all started with this mural here in Laguna Beach.”

The new temporary canvas mural spans 131 feet long by 25 feet high. Wyland will be working on the painting throughout the month of July and into August and has invited the public to watch as he adds three new life-sized gray whales, as well as features from local reefs, giant kelp, bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, garibaldi and other local coastal marine life.

Marine life artist Wyland surprised residents and visitors to Laguna Beach last week as he began recreating his first ever Whaling Wall mural. Photo by Mitch Ridder

Following the exhibition of the canvas, the mural will be added for later display at the Wyland museum.

“We’re going to have an official dedication ceremony and invite the mayor of course, Bob Whalen, and all the city council, and everyone’s invited,” Wyland said. “So, if you’re driving by on PCH, beep your horn, say hello to me, or come into the Wyland galleries and check out my newest art, and lean over the wall.”

The new artistic endeavor was unveiled just days after plans for the Hotel Laguna were discussed by the Laguna Beach City Council. On Tuesday night, Honarkar’s Laguna Beach Company received an agreement from the Council that outlines the review of six major development projects, including the renovation and reopening of Hotel Laguna.

By the end of July, Laguna Beach Company plans to submit an application for the potential redevelopment of the central bluffs from Hotel Laguna to Legion Street. City staffers expect this project will include a public pathway that will connect Main Beach to Brown’s Park.

Laguna Beach Company also plans to request a new conditional use permit and other approvals for the rehabilitation and reopening of Hotel Laguna by the end of this month. Honarkar is trying to get the hotel placed on National Register of Historic Places and wants to get the project certified as sustainable under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

Honarkar said he and his team fully support Wyland’s long-time wish to temporarily recreate his original whaling wall mural adjacent to Hotel Laguna while the Laguna Beach Company starts the submittal process for the hotel restoration project.

“We admire not only his art, but also the work his foundation does using art to encourage environmental awareness,” Honarkar said. “We look forward to watching him continue this project throughout the summer and hope many locals and visitors take advantage of this very special opportunity.”

For more information on Wyland’s art and foundation, visit wyland.com.

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  1. I don’t believe that Honarkar owns the Hotel Laguna. OC County records say that E W Merritt Farms owns the property/building. I believe that Honarkar has a long-term operator agreement with E W Merritt Farms, but not the owner.


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