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Issue Date: August 2009

Whaling Wall

Kathleen Corlett
If you’ve ever wondered how a 300-by-108-foot mural of a dozen whales swimming through the ocean wound up on the side of a power plant next to Lake Erie, that’s exactly what world-renowned marine artist Wyland wanted you to ponder. “You don’t expect to see whales in Cleveland,” he says. “But as soon as you do, it’s an eye-opener.” His Cleveland Whaling Wall, titled Song of the Whales, spans three sides of the Cleveland Public Power Plant and is No. 75 in a series of 100. Eight are located throughout the Great Lakes region. “It was always on my mind to do [one] in Cleveland and murals along the Great Lakes, connecting the idea that to protect the oceans, we need to protect the other water habitats: the lakes, the rivers, the streams, the ponds, the wetlands,” explains Wyland, who grew up in Michigan. The first of his 100 whale murals took 30 days to complete. The one here, dedicated by Mayor Michael White on Oct. 6, 1997, took just six days and drew more volunteers than any of Wyland’s previous projects. They did everything from stir paint to apply it to the building’s corrugated steel surface. Now that the 53-year-old artist’s mission to paint 100 whale murals in 30 years recently came to a close in Beijing, Weyland is constructing 100 monuments to other aquatic life throughout the globe during the next 25 years.

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