L.A. County unveils new wildlife mural at Vasquez Rocks

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger recognizes artist Aaron Morse at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a mural he created at Vasquez Rocks Monday morning. June 07, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Los Angeles County officials gathered at Vasquez Rocks Monday morning for the unveiling of the county’s newest mural, which pays homage to local plant and animal species.

“Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is fascinating and … one of the gems in L.A. County,” said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “The dramatic sandstone formations and beautiful plants truly do make this area special.”

The area is also a safe haven for unique species of native plants and animals, many of which were featured in the mural.

“We want to make sure that we continue our stewardship of our parklands, and by doing that, we’ve got to teach our children of the ecological importance, (as well as) historical and cultural importance,” county Department of Parks and Recreation Director Norma García-González said, adding that the mural will provide a learning opportunity for visitors.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a mural at Vasquez Rocks Monday morning. June 07, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“After more than a year of the pandemic, the resulting loss, the economic uncertainty, it is really going to be moments like this, it’s going to be places like this and it’s going to be artwork like this, that helps us to gather again, that helps us to explore nature, that helps us to continue to build our community,” added county Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda.

The mural is one of four civic art projects artist Aaron Morse was commissioned to create across the 5th District and was originally slated to be installed at the Devil’s Punchbowl Nature Center before it was destroyed by the Bobcat Fire.

However, as Vasquez Rocks is considered a sister to Devil’s Punchbowl, as both locations are similar in flora, fauna and wildlife, it was the perfect new location for the mural, Barger said.

In fact, many of the elements included in the mural are specimens that could be seen at the destroyed nature center, which allows the piece to pay homage to the site as it is reconstructed, Morse added.

Artist Aaron Muse’s mural is unveiled at its new location at Vasquez rocks Monday morning. June 07, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

“He brings in history, mythology,” Sakoda added of the mural. “The results are really just incredible, epic illustrations, so real, but also vivid representations of life present, past and future.”

Morse described the mural as a fantasy, as many of the animals and plants depicted in the mural are never experienced altogether.

“My intention is that it serve as just a reminder to visitors that their other dramas besides ours happening in the world, and any little thing that can just remind us of our connection to ecology, that it’s not something separate from life, but something that is a part of the climate and the ecosystems we all share,” Morse added.

Vasquez Rocks draws millions of visitors each year, and the mural was a culmination of the hard work Parks and Rec staff had put in, as visitors increased by 300% at nature centers through the pandemic, according to García-González.

Vasquez Rocks is located at 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road in Agua Dulce and is open 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Artist Aaron Muse speaks Monday morning at a ribon cutting ceremony held at Vasquez Rocks for a mural he created. June 07, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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