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Montecito resident working on stone memorial for mudslide victims

By: Alys Martinez
Posted: May 04, 2018 05:59 PM PDT
Updated: May 07, 2018 02:39 PM PDT

MONTECITO, Calif. – A stone memorial for the victims of the Montecito mudslide is slowly taking shape.

Anders Johnson, a sculptor and stonemason who grew up in Montecito, said the idea came to him in a dream shortly after the disaster on Jan 9.

He wants two dozen of the massive sandstone boulders that tumbled down the hillside to serve a new purpose.

“We got to them before they got mowed aside,” he said. “We picked them out of a field of a million stones.”

The boulders were retrieved from the battered Glen Oaks Drive neighborhood with a forklift and brought to a field at La Casa De Maria, which was also damaged in the mudslide.

Johnson’s vision is to turn the boulders into a mandala or sundial memorial, surrounding one large boulder with 24 smaller boulders.

Twenty-three boulders will represent each of the mudslide victims. One will represent firefighter Cory Iverson, who died in the Thomas fire.

“They represent solidity,” Johnson said. “They represent permanence.”

Johnson wants the memorial to be a resting place where people can sit and reflect.

“Most of these stones weigh about 3,000 pounds a piece, and we chose them because they have a flat side,” Johnson said.

He also wants to carve a symbol, chosen by family members who lost loved ones, into each boulder for each victim.

Johnson has not secured any permits or a location just yet.

He said the process may take years, but he’s ready to make his vision come to fruition.

“If I were called tomorrow, I’d go and get to work doing it,” he said.

The centerpiece boulder that Johnson had originally chosen was blasted into pieces.

Johnson is searching for a replacement.

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