Plenty of adjectives have been used to describe Mill Valley artist Zio Ziegler over the years, including but not limited to: acclaimed, talented, original and prolific. We can now add incredibly fast to that mix.

In the span of just a few days and with the help of Argentinian artist Nicolás Romero aka Ever, Ziegler has changed the landscape of downtown Mill Valley with his massive mural, dubbed “The Mysterious Thing,” on the wall of the CineArts @ Sequoia Theatre above the outdoor dining deck of the new Playa restaurant on Throckmorton Avenue.

“Zio absolutely nailed it,” Playa co-owner Bill Higgins says. “It’s a homage to Mount Tam, to Temelpa, to our community, and its just fantastic. It’s transformational for our downtown, and we’re thrilled.”

​In a Planning Commission hearing just before he began the mural, Ziegler said that while he didn’t produce sketches of the mural in advance – he prefers to work on instinct – he drew inspiration from the words on the plaque at the Sitting Bull monument along Temelpa Trail on Mt. Tam:

“Behold my brothers, the spring has come; the earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the result of all that love! Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our neighbors. Even our animal neighbors. The same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land. Yet hear me, people, we have now to deal with another race; small and feeble when our father first met them but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soul and the love of possession is a disease to them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break by the poor may not. They take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich who rule. They claim this this mother of ours, the earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away; they deface her with their buildings and their refuse. That nation is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path. ”
​– Sitting Bull 1877
“Those words need a physical embodiment – possibly the idea of the mountain holding you and serving as a nurturing force,” said Ziegler, who appeared at the Depot Bookstore & Cafe last month 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.”

 the son of Banana Republic founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler, returned home to Mill Valley in 2011 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 he’s an internationally acclaimed artist, with murals both far afield (LondonTokyo, Paris, Ukraine andCozumel, Mexico, to name a few) and closer to home in San Francisco’s MissionTenderloin 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. The venture came about quickly. 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 was game, and serendipitously had a small window of time before he headed overseas on August 10 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.”

The 411: Playa is open now at 41 Throckmorton. MORE INFO.

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