As a young child, she set up her own work table creating art right next to her mother, a commercial artist, book cover designer and art teacher who worked at home, modeling the kind of existence that Lauren Sinnott would embrace for her own style of living.
“My mother was very supportive of my efforts and talent. I drew early and a lot; art was in our blood,” she says.
She ended up with a perfect constellation of background elements to develop into the extraordinary artist that she has become including learning from her mother and grandmother how to sew and cook and make things.
She grew up in the colds of Wisconsin and spent her senior year as an exchange student in Belgium where she embraced its vast history and the cultural experiences it offered—the appreciation of visiting a 400-year-old house, French culture, multi course meals, good wine, good coffee and the art of conversation over dinner.
As class valedictorian she was no slouch and was acutely aware of how much harder her counterparts in Belgium worked in high school compared to her classmates in Wisconsin.
Having been accepted at MIT, Yale and Stanford, an offer of a scholarship from Rice University in Houston made the final decision for her and she received an undergraduate degree in art, art history and French literature while attending school there.
With offers of scholarships and fellowships, she went on to get a B.A in painting and an M.A. in art history.
“Having that kind of educational background has made me so much better as an artist.
“It wasn’t just the making of art but the studying of it that mattered— the intellectual background of who did what; what techniques developed when and why we make art.”
She continued sketching and painting and was inspired by one of her teachers who created very large canvases, 20 feet tall.
“I took part of his technique, doing really thin washes on canvas, and painted my own subject matter.”
Still in Houston, with two young sons, she was teaching art history at a museum school and languishing, not doing what she needed to promote her own art.
Looking for community, she took a solo trip up to the tundra to contemplate her future and realized she needed to move. She bought an outfitted school bus in Alaska, returned to Houston, packed up, and traveled the country with her boys, eventually ending up in Los Angeles where she thought it grand to be able to see the ocean, be warm and be able to pick up the fresh avocados and limes that had fallen from the trees.
She drove north along the coast stopping here and there along the way and arrived in Point Arena. It was the fall of 1999, time for school to start. She went into a café where someone asked if that was her bus and would she like to enroll her kids in their brand-new charter school that was starting that week?
Someone else let her know she knew of friends who would let her live in her bus on their land.
Another person, seeing her goddess bumper sticker—The Goddess is Alive and Magic is Afoot—told her that she publishes a pagan magazine and would she like to have dinner with them that night.
“So, we stayed.”
Via Facetime, Sinnott gave me a guided tour of her home/museum—where she can hear but not see the ocean—and introduced me to a few of her pieces, part of a vast collection that covers the walls and doors.
In the hallway there is a small set of brightly-painted, metal lockers from a high school that house her fabric; on one end is a portrait of a mother-in-law she never met.
There is a 3-foot painting of her sister; portraits of a nursing mother and child; a portrait of her great aunt in pencil with a pink overlay; and mini murals throughout the house.
In the living room is an ex-husband as a face card, one of a series in her life style face card portraitures that include self-portraits, one of her paying her bills and another of her drinking coffee and reading the New Yorker Magazine. There are portraits of her sons Ian and Adrian; mini murals of dolphins playing on a door and a long S-shaped mirror hanging from another door.
There is a painting of a selkie from Irish legend, a pencil on canvas with a wash of color over it.
While not having quite finished what she considers to be her career crown jewel—Ukiah Valley-Past, Present & Future—she has completed 26 of the 30 panels on West Church Street and plans to finish the project by the end of the summer.
Her desire to do this monumental undertaking goes back to her background in art history, her love of history.
As a highly skilled artist with a great deal of training, she has the ability to leap into a project without having to predict where it is ultimately going.
“I just know I will be able to roll with it and make it work.”
The large wall with vertical crack separations on West Church Street was an incredible opportunity for her to create the series of large murals and portraitures with which she is so adept.
“The idea that it would be separate scenes leapt into my mind; however, at the time, I didn’t know what the scenes would be. Knowing it was a public mural also made it very appealing.”
The plan for the paneled paintings was spearheaded by locals who wanted more murals in town. Working with Arts Council of Mendocino Council, the group received local donations and a matching grant from California for art for underserved communities and the bids went out.
Artists submitted ideas, past works and resumes and the two finalists were required to submit sketches.
“That was tons of work because I had to figure out what I was going to put in all the 30 panels.”
After power washing the walls and applying primer, she uses high quality house paint, all of which has been donated by Kelly-Moore Paints of Ukiah.
“House paint is opaque, so it lends itself to what I had already been developing in my style. I love cut areas of color, firm, clear good lines—no messiness, no bleeding, not a bunch of rough brush strokes.
“In a way it’s like Hindu art or Chinese etchings with curvilinear lines and patterns; it’s a balance between patterning and realism.”
She has recently coined the term for what she does as ornamental realism.
In order to mitigate the damage of vandalism, she rolls on a clear product, four coats deep, creating a physical barrier.
“I am so grateful that people have respected the art; the community deserves credit for that,” she says.
The most recent iteration of the panels is the production of 30 banners hung in the Pear Tree Shopping Center. Her son Adrian Sinnott and James Foy took photos of all 30 panels (including the four incomplete ones) and through a collaboration of the Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance, the Pear Tree Shopping Center, Arts Council of Mendocino County, Mo Mulheren and Sinnott, the murals were photographed, photoshopped, printed onto banners and hung in the shopping center.
“I think it might be fun for people to do a pleasure/treasure hunt in the parking lot to see who they can recognize—who is who in the banners.”
It has, of course, been rewarding artistically for Sinnott but she could not have predicted the joy she has received from interacting with the public on a regular basis while working on the murals.
“I’m portraying living people for everyone; it’s a project for us but also about us and it’s so satisfying to do portraits of people who are alive; they can see themselves and point out their images to friends and family. It’s so cool.”
She realizes that although she cannot right wrongs perpetrated throughout time, she can help shed light on them through her art.
“The Native genocide cannot be covered up; it has to be in there.”
The last four panels—Innovation, Service, Remembrance, Our Future Together—are half-way completed. Her plans for the final panel will portray children of the future with an ideal city in the background and the sun’s rays proclaiming: equality, tradition, vision, honesty, compassion, respect, peace and freedom.
“These are the values we will need to embrace to get to our beautiful future,” she says.
Reviewed By This Is Article About Local artist decorates the town – The Ukiah Daily Journal was posted on have 5 stars rating.