July 25, 2017
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Helping turn boring bridges into works of art in RP

  • Kalyssa Hicks, 11 (front) smiles as she applies paint to the bridge over Hinebaugh Creek on Country Club Drive in Rohnert Park. City employee Amber Hemmingsen is pictured on the other side of her, in the safety vest. June 29, 2017. Photo by Christina Molcillo

By: Christina Molcillo
July 7, 2017

Amber Hemmingsen has been working for the Rohnert Park Water Treatment and Production District for over 11 years, so seeing her on the bridge on Country Club over the Hinebaugh Creek Thursday morning, June 29 in a safety vest wasn’t a surprise. However, seeing her there with a can of paint and a young helper was. 

Hemmingsen was busy painting the sides of the bridge in the manner of trompe l’oeil – making it look as though the bridge was made from stones cobbled together. Helping her out was 11-year-old Kalyssa Hicks, who had seen Hemmingsen working on the bridge the day before and wanted to help. ““Hemmingsen laughed, “she came over and started to take the brush out of my hand! She’s really motivated.”

Though this project is making the bridge look much more aesthetically pleasing than the plain concrete slab that it is, there’s a pragmatic reason for it as well: graffiti abatement. Ms. Hemmingsen stated that she’d been asking to take on this project for quite some time, having noticed that this area would often end up getting heavily tagged with graffiti, “Some areas of the bridge look like a blank canvas,” she stated, “hopefully, with the artwork on it, the pull to tag or deface it isn’t there.”

An unexpected, but welcome, reaction by passing motorists was overwhelmingly positive. While speaking with Amber and Kalyssa, no fewer than four motorists slowed down to honk, wave or offer encouraging words and thanks. “Oh yeah,” Hemmingsen smiled, “I started counting when I got here at 7:30 this morning and by 10 a.m. around nine people had already driven by waving or telling me how nice it looked. I’d love to be able to do this for other areas, too – I think it’s making a difference in how welcoming it makes an area look.”

At this point, Kalyssa came over and asked, “Do you want to know a secret? We’re going to add a secret Mickey!” She explained that it’s what you see hidden all over Disneyland; a small picture of the Mickey Mouse logo placed where it would be least expected – on a ride, a piece of furniture, or other areas of the park. 

So now the question is: what side of the bridge will it be on, and who’ll find it first?