It may sound like a slogan from the 1970s, but for 2010 "Save the Whales" might as well be artist Vicki Affatati's new mantra.

BANDON — It may sound like a slogan from the 1970s, but for 2010 "Save the Whales" might as well be artist Vicki Affatati's new mantra. In her case, the whales she hopes to save are two-dimensional and their enemies are the ravages of weather and time, not harpoons.

And it's more than whales. It's seals, seabirds, a lighthouse and even a sea captain.

Affatati is spearheading an effort to restore the murals in Bandon painted by the late Jack Champayne. She has dubbed the project "Bringing Jack Back."

Anyone who's driven through Bandon should have seen them. There's the 5,200-square-foot mural on the city of Bandon's wastewater treatment plant at the corner of Riverside Drive and First Street — the one visitors often mistake for an aquarium.

Affatati hopes to restore it first. She isn't going it alone. Also a teacher, she's decided to involve others, especially young people.

Affatati has mentored high school students for 20 years. The 16 teens involved with the project so far will work as apprentices and help with fundraising, Web design, promotion, as historians.

Affatati's own daughter, Tatiana Havill, who graduated last year and attends the University of Oregon, is the project's graphic designer and assistant. Bandon High School senior Rachel Reddick is the student project manager.

"The fortunate students who work on the mural or the planning committee will learn valuable lessons that will certainly shape their futures," BHS art teacher Jen Ells said.

Inspired when one of Champayne's murals was painted over last year at Bandon True Value Hardware, because the owner couldn't afford to restore it, Affatati became determined that none of his other murals would see such a fate.

"When I first came to Bandon, I was so moved by the display of public art," Affatati said.

Organizers are hoping to fund the Bringing Jack Back Restoration Project through grants and donations. They also applied for a grant and held a fundraiser. Cost of the project is estimated at $39,320, with $5,800 so far coming from volunteer and in-kind donations, leaving $33,520 to be raised.

That's a bargain, according to Affatati. The going rate for new murals is $10 a square foot.

The actual restoration work is slated to begin this summer and be completed by October. Affatati is asking the community for photographs of the murals around town so she can match colors. Student historians also are looking for people who can share stories about Champayne. A roll of canvas also would be welcomed and bright colored house paint, for projects at BHS related to the mural restoration.

"Restoring this mural will lead the way to making sure that Jack's beautiful public art can be saved," Affatati said.