Millard Sheets

Mural at San Jose International Airport saved

Here’s an airport art story with a happy ending:

Now that San Jose International Airport has opened it swanky new Terminal B, it’s time to go ahead and demolish Terminal C.

But before allowing the wrecking ball to come in, officials had to figure out what they were going to do with this giant, 540 square-foot mural in the lobby.

San Jose Airport mural saved

(Photo by Ben Wang)

Painted by Millard Sheets, the mural depicts the history of Santa Clara Valley and has been in the main hall of Terminal C since 1977.  The mural was painted on canvas and then glued to the sheetrock walls. Art conservators had concluded that getting the mural off the wall could cost more than $1 million – if it could be taken off the wall at all.

After exploring all the alternatives, the city and the airport decided to simply take a high resolution picture of the mural and hang that picture elsewhere in the airport.  Demolition was scheduled to take place on Friday and the artist’s son, Tony Sheets, had flown in from Oregon to get a look his late father’s last mural and lend a hand.

But as the explains, Sheets and four construction workers “simply peeled the ends of the mural and attached them to long poles — in this case plastic and copper pipes scavenged from the old terminal — and rolled the mural off, sort of like rolling up a sleeping bag tight.”

So it’s a happy ending.

Instead of putting up a photograph of the mural, travelers at San Jose International Airport will get to see the real thing.