Zio Ziegler. Courtesy image.
Soon-to-open Throckmorton Ave. restaurant’s owners received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission this week to have acclaimed artist paint a large-scale mural above their new dining deck.

PictureThe Sequoia Theatre wall on which Zio Ziegler will painting a mural above the new dining deck of Playa restaurant.

Five years have passed since Mill Valley native Zio Ziegler returned home from college at Brown and Rhode Island School of Design with a whirlwind of energy, opening his Art Sempre pop-up art and clothing shop and showcasing his burgeoning artistic style with murals all over town, from the Throckmorton Theatre and Proof Lab to Tam Bikes and even turning a Sycamore Park family’s Porsche of into a mobile mural.

Fast forward a half-decade and Ziegler is an internationally acclaimed artist, with murals both far afield (London, Tokyo, Paris, Ukraine and Cozumel, Mexico, to name a few) and closer to home in San Francisco’s Mission, Tenderloin and Outer Sunset neighborhoods, on the Federal Realty Building in Oakland and on the campuses of tech giants like Facebook, Uber and Google.

Ziegler’s global emergence serves as the backdrop for his latest hometown project: a mural on the side of the building that houses the Sequoia Theatre, on the west-facing wall that overlooks the new dining deck of the soon-to-open Playa restaurant. The venture came about quickly – and will happen in a flash.

Soon after they purchased Playa in June from Karen Goldberg, Bill and Vanessa Higgins and Peter Schumacher, whose Real Restaurants company owns Mill Valley landmarks Buckeye Roadhouse and Bungalow 44, among others, reached out to Ziegler about creating a mural above the deck. Ziegler, the son of Banana Republic founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler, was game, and serendipitously had a small window of time before he heads overseas in early August for more previously-scheduled mural projects.

The group obtained permission from theatre owner Friends of the Sequoia Theater, with California Film Institute Executive Director Mark Fishkin, one of the group’s managing partners, calling the proposed mural a community “asset that enhances the beautiful common areas that have been incorporated into the new design of Playa’s outdoor space.”

And on July 26, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow the project to proceed, with the caveat that the mural be “G-rated” and “compatible with Mill Valley’s small-town character.”

“It’s a beautiful opportunity,” Bill Higgins told the Commission. “We think the world of Zio.”

Ziegler famously works on instinct, telling Michael Krasny recent on KQED’s “Forum” that his art is often his way of “processing my emotions and experiences” and that his art “flows from my hand.” Ziegler told the Commission that while he didn’t have sketches of the piece he’ll create above Playa’s deck, he’ll likely draw inspiration from the words on the plaque at the Sitting Bull monument along Temelpa Trail on Mt. Tam.

“Those words need a physical embodiment – possibly the idea of the mountain holding you and serving as a nurturing force,” hinted Ziegler, who appeared at the Depot Bookstore & Cafe on Thursday in support of his new book, “Collaborate with Zio: The Artist’s Sketchpad, Coauthored and Colored by YOU,” a coloring book that hopes to inspire kids and adults. “I really want to honor the pallette of the mountain.”

Ziegler is set to begin working on the mural next week, and Playa is set to open in the coming days.

“We’re very lucky to have him,” Planning Commission Chair Anne Bolen said of Ziegler.

The 411: Playa is at 41 Throckmorton. It’s set to open in the coming days.

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