Artist at work

As the historic Brookdale Lodge gets ready to reopen later this year, a new art installation by local famed muralist John Cerney is taking shape.

Pravin Patel, the owner of the Brookdale Lodge, found Cerney by driving by one of his James Dean cut-out murals on Highways 46 in Central California.

“It's on a corner called Blackwell's Corner, the actual last place that Dean stopped for a snack before driving another 20 some odd miles and dying in a wreck near Cholame,” Cerney said. “He saw my name signed at the bottom and tracked me down.”

Cerney, who has been a working artist for 33 years, fell in love with murals in the early 1990’s. He started working on very large murals and concentrated on only painting large cut-type murals.

“I believe my murals are effective and highly noticeable because I cut them out and let the background become a part of the scene,” Cerney said. “They fool your senses a little bit.”

This is about the seventh time Cerney has painted a mural of James Dean. In the lobby of an accounting firm in Salinas there is an entire wall scene of Dean making the last stop at Blackwell’s Corner.

“I actually painted Dean on the hood of my pickup truck back in the 70's, before I ever became an artist. It wasn't very good, but I was going through my 'James Dean' phase,” Cerney said.

Cerney’s murals can be seen in over 20 states and throughout Monterey County.

The James Dean mural for the Brookdale Lodge, was done in eight sections and it is 20 feet tall. The plywood comes in four by eight feet panels, so Cerney had to construct and paint him in sections.

Cerney had to wait to receive the proper paperwork from the county to start the installation process, but expects to put up the mural this week.

“I went with a different pose then the original mural on the wall, but, I think, a better pose. The 'cool' factor here is pure James Dean,” Cerney said.

According to Cerney, he is not nervous about the reaction from the community. This is a typical “John Cerney” mural, he said.

“If I have a great shot to work from, then all I have to do is replicate that on the 'canvas'. After 30 some odd years, I'm confident that I can do that,” Cerney said.

To view Cerney’s artwork visit:

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