In creating the murals for the SanTomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek Trail, Linda Patterson spent extensive time researching, observing, sketching, and designing a story wall that would interpret and complement the natural environment.

Although the City of Santa Clara lies at the center of computer industry, the creek habitat is vibrant and represents a soothing oasis from the surrounding urban environment. The objective was to extend this natural beauty to the concrete retaining walls along the trail, just as the trail itself made this beauty more available to the local population.

Patterson expresses her deep concern for the natural environment through her art. Creating murals in concrete was a natural extension from the mural painting. Sculpting concrete in relief allowed her to offer a tactile experience to visually impaired trail users.

She has designed a total of fifteen unique art murals, each 12 feet long, which reflect the flora and fauna of the creek and nearby upland habitats. These designs are executed in three different heights of 2 feet, 4 feet, and 6½ feet to follow the terrain shifts at seven different trail underpass constructed beneath state highways, rail lines, county expressways, and city streets.

The reusable elastomeric molds were made at Scott System in Denver. Patterson worked with a production artist at Scott System to sculpt clay, achieving 1½ inches of relief to create the three-dimensional effect. Each mural was carefully sculpted by hand, portraying lifelike birds, animals, plants, and insects in real size. Patterson then covered the entire surface with unique textures to create the appearance of fur, feathers, tree bark, grasses, water, rocks, and other objects. Children enjoy touching the animals and birds, and the art provides an entertaining and educational opportunity to learn about the environment.

The flexible elastomeric molds captured every detail Patterson had sculpted in the clay. The molds were sent to Santa Clara, Calif., and the murals were cast in place as part of the concrete retaining walls that are reinforced with epoxy-coated rebar.

The trail has been designed and constructed in segments. There are now 2136 linear feet of murals installed at seven trail underpasses. Form liners will be used again in 2006 for the construction of a third segment of the trail that will extend beneath three roadways and a rail line. The application of reusable elastomeric form liners has been a cost-effective way to bring art to the entire trail system. The three-person design team that worked with the civil, structural, and geotechnical engineers include an environmental planner, a landscape architect, and an artist/designer.

For more information contact the artist/designer Linda Patterson at


  • Landscape Architect: Hill Associates, Los Gatos, Calif.
  • Environmental Planner: Jana Sokale, Newark, Calif.
  • Artist/Designer: Linda Patterson, Newark, Calif.