RICHMOND -- Planning a mural is a big project, especially when it is on public property.
A mural planned for the southern Keller Beach portal of the tunnel in Point Richmond was several years in the planning and was still a long way from realization when two seeming misfortunes put it on the path to completion.
"We've been planning this for more than four years," Richmond resident Bruce Beyaert of the Trails for Richmond Action Committee said at the mural's dedication May 4. "Four years is really short for a civic project."
Funding for the project was languishing until it was decided to make the beautification in memory of Peter Minkwitz, a popular longtime Point Richmond resident and past president of the area's neighborhood council. Minkwitz had been involved with the mural project before his death in February 2012 at age 67.
"It was all the generous donations in Peter's memory that made this possible," Beyaert said. The second setback was the finding in February of structural issues in the tunnel itself that closed the link between Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline and the Point Richmond business district for repairs that are still taking place.
That freed the south portal for cleaning, prep work and painting without restriction, while John Wehrle, the dean of Richmond mural artists, worked on an elevated platform in the roadway.
"We would have had traffic control, which would have been another cost," Beyaert said.
"We're so lucky it all came together. It was pure serendipity."
Wehrle, whose works of art adorn public spaces in the Bay Area and around the West Coast, said it is premature to say that this may be one of his last murals but added, "I don't know how long I can keep this up."
The 71-year-old artist and longtime Richmond resident is working on a mural project for the state of Washington and said he would probably continue "as long as it's interesting and it pays well."