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CONTACT: Bruce Smith
Public Information Officer
(310) 434-4209
DATE: Jan. 25, 2007


A plaque dedication ceremony honoring the artistry and life of the late Andy Blinn – who, despite a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis, at the age of 16 completed a unique mural in what was then an aviation museum – was held today (Jan. 31) at Santa Monica College’s Airport Campus.

A small group of Blinn’s surviving family members and friends, along with officials from SMC and the City of Santa Monica, gathered at the mural site for the plaque unveiling at a ceremony marked by fond remembrances and poignancy. The ceremony was held nearly 26 years after the project was completed and a year after Blinn’s death at age 40 from cystic fibrosis,

“As a representative of the college, we’re very pleased and honored to put up this memorial in honor of this work,” said Katharine Muller, SMC’s dean of external programs, the administrator in charge of the college’s satellite campuses.

The plaque, which will be installed right next to the mural, was proposed by Blinn’s parents, Richard and Marjeanne Blinn of Manhattan Beach, who attended the ceremony.

The young Blinn took about a year to complete the mural in a stairwell of what was then the Donald Douglas Museum and Library. The mural, which depicts various Douglas aircraft from the 1920s through the 1970s, was completed in February 1981.

When Blinn, an aviation enthusiast, was just 15, he visited the museum and proposed to the director that he paint the mural. His parents drove him on weekends to the site from their Manhattan Beach home, but the project was delayed several times when the teenager had to go into the hospital for treatments.

Rod Merl, planning and administration manager at Santa Monica Airport, praised Blinn’s work for its historical importance, noting that Donald Douglas was a major employer in Santa Monica for many years.
“This is a great, great way to commemorate” Douglas aircraft, he said.

The mural, along with other reminders of the building’s aviation history, were preserved when the college took over the site from the museum in 1988 under a lease with the City of Santa Monica.

“From a very early age, he demonstrated considerable talent in art,” according to a website dedicated to Blinn’s memory. “Never daunted by a blank piece of paper, he experimented with any media put before him – finger-paint, clay, glass mosaic, charcoal, chalk, acrylics, oils, block prints, and plain old pencil.

“His first beach sandcastle won a prize. His cardboard Halloween costumes were legendary. Attending a cartooning class with his father at age 10, he was the youngest student the Torrance Adult School had ever had.”

Born Nov. 19, 1965 in Los Angeles, he died Dec. 5, 2005 in Long Beach. After graduating from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, he went on to study art and computer graphic design at California State University at Dominguez Hills, graduating summa cum laude.

“After years of computer design-related positions in Santa Barbara, Seattle and San Pedro, he found his true niche with Wells Fargo Bank, Santa Ana,” the website says. “His analytical mind, his artistic creativity, and his calm, non-judgmental approach to problem solving made him a trusted co-worker. Modern technology allowed him to work comfortably at home in Long Beach, where he also did freelance projects for American Honda Motor Company in Torrance.”

The plaque, with two pictures of Blinn taken at the time he was painting the mural, says, “Andy lived courageously with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis. He treated each day of his life as a gift. He loved art, airplanes, computers, and many friends. He achieved awards in every field he entered. He gave his creative spirit to everything he touched.”



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