Frank rock decorates the interior of the Old Town Newhall Library, set to open Sept. 29.
The Old Town Newhall Library is bustling. Not with folks checking out books, studying, or searching the internet. The library doesn’t officially open until Sept. 29.
No, 12 days from the public opening the library is filled with workers in hard hats. The beep of scissor lifts can be heard. Cardboard marks walking paths along newly laid commercial carpets.
But amid the chaos, muralist Frank Rock stands quietly on a ladder painting with the most delicate of brushes.
“I did a mural down at the Holy Cross/Providence hospital for like a month and half a few years ago and I had people back and forth, back and forth. I’m not deterred by it,” said Rock.
With the opening coming soon, all must work must be done, stat.
“It doesn’t have to be but I’m trying to get it done today. Once I get all the detail in the face it should all run pretty fast,” said Rock.
That face belongs to a freckled cowboy in a bright yellow fringe cowboy outfit who will serve as the welcome to the children’s library. A large script sign reading “Howdy” swirls over Rock’s head.
“This is the entrance to the children’s library which is a very festive, children’s motif you might say. Just a real happy-go-lucky character greeting the kids in,” said Rock.
Like all of the art work in the library, Rock’s painting reflects the history of Santa Clarita.
“This is the image from Howdy Cleaners which was in old town Newhall back in the 50s and 60s from a family named Houdeshell, hence Howdy,” said Rock.
A photograph of the original Howdy Cleaners with its distinctive cowboy mascot hangs nearby. The identifier says the store was originally located on San Fernando Road, south of Market Street.
“That’s now the site of the Canyon Theatre Guild,” said Rock.
He should know all about the Canyon Theatre Guild, since 1999 Rock has been doing the scenic design for their productions.
“Ironically, what I was doing before that was little portraitures on 1×2 inch cards. When I got to the theatre they needed somebody to help with their sets and their back drops. So I went the total opposite. I learned how to grid large scenes and caught on to doing large portraiture and large scenic art at the guild,” said Rock.
Beyond the theatre, Rock does murals for hire at homes and businesses. This weekend he’ll be creating a 12’x8’ chalk mural at the Carlsbad ArtSplash. Rock wishes he didn’t have to travel so far.
“I’ll throw this bid in right now. Can the city please bring back the Chalk Art Festival?” said Rock, with an eager laugh.
The large skylights of the new library illuminate the carpet layers, and workers rolling in carts of books. Their swirl and bustle cannot disrupt Rock’s focus at the eye of the storm.
“I’ve been painting, sketching and doodling all my life. I love doing it,” said Rock.