Right before the New Year, local artist Michelle Martinez and her students at Jim Elliot Christian High School and Lodi Christian School created a mural of animals outside Lodi Veterinary Hospital.

Martinez said her dog’s veterinarian, Dr. Hayden Webster, approached her to ask if she would be interested in painting a mural on the building, after learning she was an artist.

Martinez serves as the director of development at Jim Elliot high school, but splits her time as an art teacher at Lodi Christian School.

She agreed to develop a concept, and over the course of six months began sketching designs that she would present to Webster.

“I initially wanted to do something more modern and paint animal silhouettes on the side of the building, but he said he would prefer animal faces,” Martinez said. “When you’re painting for someone else, it’s important to listen to what the person asking wants. We worked together on coming up with a design.”

She and her students began drawing and painting the mural, which consists of vivid colors shading both cat and dog faces. The group got to work a few days before New Year’s Eve and completed the mural in two days.

She suggested using bright colors to ensure the mural would stand out against the building, and used royal blue to tie in the art with the other fixtures on the building.

“There was a moment when we finished painting and it felt like something was missing, so after looking at it for a minute I knew I wanted to match the artwork to the blue awnings around the building,” she said.

Martinez, who lives in the neighborhood near the Lodi Veterinary Hospital, felt especially motivated to paint the mural because she wanted to provide something for the community.

Both volunteers and people passing by were thrilled to see the artwork completed, said Paige Martinez, Martinez’s daughter and a senior at Jim Elliot, said

“While we were painting, so many people wanted to know what we were doing, and one of the ladies in the neighborhood came out and helped us. It was really great to see how excited everyone was,” Payton said.

Watching the community’s reaction to the artwork was extremely inspiring, she said. She would like to do another public art project in the future because she believes it brings the community together.

The artwork is available for the community to enjoy at the Lodi Veterinary Hospital, 325 W. Lockeford St., Lodi. For more information, visit the Lodi Veterinary Hospital Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Lodivet.

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