When Andy Blinn was 16 years old, in 1981, he put the finishing touches on a mural in a stairwell of what was then The Donald Douglas Museum and Library at Santa Monica Airport.
Nearly 26 years later — and a year after Blinn’s death at age 40 from cystic fibrosis — a plaque dedication ceremony was to honor his artistry and life.
The ceremony was to be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, January 31st, at what is now Santa Monica College’s Airport Campus, 2800 Airport Ave., Santa Monica.
His parents, Richard and Marjeanne Blinn of Manhattan Beach, were to be at the plaque dedication ceremony, along with representatives of Santa Monica College and Santa Monica Airport.
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.”
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.
When the young Blinn, an aviation enthusiast, was 15, he visited the museum and proposed to the director that he paint the mural.
It took him more than a year to complete the project, with his parents driving him on weekends to the site from their Manhattan Beach home.
The project was delayed several times when the teenager had to go into the hospital for treatments of cystic fibrosis, a disease he lived with his entire life.
“From a very early age, he demonstrated considerable talent in art,” according to a Web site dedicated to Blinn’s memory (www.andyblinn.com). “Never daunted by a blank piece of paper, he experimented with any media put before him — fingerpaint, 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 ten, he was the youngest student the Torrance Adult School had ever had,” states the Web site.
Born November 19th, 1965 in Los Angeles, he died December 5th, 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 Web site 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.”