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Misawa family member paints mural, finds new friends in Misawa City

By Senior Airman C. Todd Lopez

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (Oct. 06, 2000) -- Fran Bussard, a dependent at Misawa Air Base for less than two months now, is already making friends in the City of Misawa, using nothing but a paint brush.

Bussard recently applied for work here on base, she offered potential employers an experienced artist with a fairly large portfolio.

"I do have an extensive background in art and design," said Bussard. "I'm also used to working under deadlines, having ten years experience in advertising art and direction."

Less than a month after applying for work, a representative of the City of Misawa approached the Family Support Center, asking for assistance. They needed a skilled artist to paint a mural for the Misawa Patio Festival at Ms. Veedol Plaza in downtown Misawa.

That's when Bussard got the call.

"I didn't have any idea this would happen," said Bussard. "When Family Services called to ask me if I could do the job, I knew immediately that God had just opened the door of opportunity to me."

The job required Bussard to paint a large mural at Ms. Veedol Plaza. The mural was to be one of two at the festival, and it had to be done within a week. Bussard's mural covered four separate walls, each of them 10-feet tall. The second mural, painted by Takada Munenori, an English-Japanese interpreter with the 35th Security Forces Squadron.

Because the theme of the festival is "The American Old West," Bussard's mural would have to reflect some part of that theme. "A Day in the Life of a Cowboy" is the one I painted," said Bussard. The immense mural features several different aspects of a cowboy's life and many symbols of the Old West, including camp fires, spurs, and cattle roping.

Bussard said she hoped to make new friends upon arriving in Japan, and she believes this artistic act is just what she'd been hoping for.

"I had never painted a mural before, but I painted this mural because it has been the desire of my heart since we arrived here six weeks ago, to make Japanese friends and to work with them as well," said Bussard.

"It was great fun working with the group at the Chamber of Commerce and I deeply appreciate the confidence that Baba Toshiyuki, the events coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce placed in me," said Bussard.

For those wishing to view the murals, or participate in the festivities, the 10-day Misawa Patio Festival runs through Monday, and is located at Ms. Veedol Plaza in downtown Misawa.