Local Orindans Hope to Beautify Orinda One Panel at a Time

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(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Tom Trowbridge (L) and Peter Hassleman (R) with their model panels for the Trompe L’oeil they hope will be approved for the walkway under the freeway that connects Theatre Square to BART and the Village side of Orinda.

    Staying creative during COVID-19’s forced shelter-at-home, Pete Hasselman and Tom Trowbridge have created a series of three 8’ x 4’ panels to give people an idea of their ultimate goal – an 8’ x 90’ Trompe L’oeil (realistic mural) under the BART/freeway walkway on Camino Pablo.
    “Many cities are using a Trompe L’oeil to beautify various spaces,” said Hassleman, who painted the demonstration panels. “They’re not abstract pieces of art but rather they depict something realistically.”
    The award-winning architect hopes to celebrate Orinda landmarks, history and citizens while also beautifying the sidewalk above the freeway that connects Theatre Square to Bart and to the Village side of Orinda.
    “I want to promote downtown’s future with high impact art that would at long last remedy a despised “tunnel,” Hassleman said.
    Hassleman envisions his panels as a demonstration concept not a final design. “The final design would be executed by real artists,” he said.
    He and Trowbridge have been showing the panels to City Councilmembers Inga Miller and Nick Kosla, members of the Downtown Planning Subcommittee, as well as the Lamorinda Arts Council and the Historical Landmarks Committee. “We wanted to get their reaction to the idea and gauge enthusiasm for the project,” said Trowbridge, who hopes to raise money for the project through donations.
    In order to bring their idea to fruition, Hassleman and Trowbridge need the approval of Cal Trans, who owns the walkway. “We just want to get the concept down now, and then we’ll take it to Cal Trans,” Trowbridge said.
    “This is wholly a volunteer project by Orindavision,” said Hassleman. “To date, we don’t have any formal endorsement. It’s strictly citizens’ suggestions to help get something going in the downtown area.”

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