Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Story of a Mural

The following article will appear in the forthcoming issue of HIBBLETON Independent magazine.

Although it is called “Pastoral California,” the 75-foot long fresco mural on the side of Plummer Auditorium at Fullerton Union High School tells a story that is anything but peaceful. It was painted in 1934, during the Great Depression, painted over by order of the Board of Trustees in 1939, and restored 56 years later in 1997. The story of this mural, what it depicts, why it was painted over, and finally restored, is a story of conflict, racism, oppression, and the evolving social values of a community.

The first major public art projects in Fullerton were commissioned during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration, which was created by Franklin D. Roosevelt to put America to work at a time when lots of people needed jobs. The WPA gave over eight million unemployed Americans jobs in its eight-year existence. The City of Fullerton benefitted tremendously from the WPA. Many of the buildings at Fullerton College are WPA buildngs. The post office, the Fullerton Museum Center, the Police Station, and the stone structures and paths in Hillcrest Park were all built by WPA money and unemployed Fullerton residents.

In addition to building projects, the WPA also commissioned murals in cities across America, including Fullerton, in an effort to give people not just jobs, but a sense of hope and beauty in difficult times. Perhaps the most famous of these murals is “Pastoral California,” one of the two largest frescoes commissioned by the WPA.

Charles Kassler, who had studied art at Princeton, traveled extensively, and apprenticed under a fresco painter in France, completed “Pastoral California” in 1934. Kassler had only one hand. He’d lost the other in a high school chemistry accident. He was married to famous Mexican singer Luisa Espinel, who was the aunt of pop superstar Linda Ronstadt.

Kassler clearly did local history research before painting the mural. It depicts a Spanish/Mexican southern California. From the 1700s to 1821, California was controlled by Spain. From 1821 to 1848, it was controlled by Mexico. Around that time, the United States decided it was their “Manifest Destiny” to control California, which they have done quite successfully to this day. Kassler, however, chose to depict not an Anglo-American California, but a Spanish/Mexican one.

The mural depicts historical figures like Jose Antonio Yorba, a large landowner whom Yorba Linda is named after. In the background is Mission San Juan Capistrano. To the right is Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California. Most of the figures are Latinos doing everyday activities: washing clothes, riding horses, eating together.





1930s LA art critic Merle Armitage praised the mural: “Kassler has adhered not only to the beautiful traditions of pastoral California, but at the same time has also borne in mind the splendid Spanish architecture, and, lastly, created a beautiful fresco of amazing vitality and freshness of viewpoint.”



Dr. H. Lynn Sheller taught English and History at Fullerton College in 1934, at the time “Pastoral California” was painted. “I watched him [Charles Kassler] put the mural up there,” Sheller recalled in an interview for the Fullerton College Oral History Program, “I would visit him day after day as he was working...the feature of a fresco is that the paint is mixed in with the plaster, thus it is supposed to be permanent.”



But not everyone was happy with Kassler’s mural.

An article from August 30, 1939 in the Fullerton News-Tribune entitled “High School Mural Doomed; Paint it Out, Trustees Order” reads:

"Fullerton Union high school’s much discussed and criticized mural which covers the outside west wall of the auditorium received its death sentence at the hands of district trustees last night who ordered the wall paint sprayed to cover the painting.

This mural is approximately 75 feet long by 15 feet high with its huge figures of horses and riders and other human forms depicting early California days has been a mooted point since its completion several [five] years ago by the artist Kassler as a federal art project.

Most occupants of the high school will shed no tears over the decision of the board; it was indicated today as the lurid colors and somewhat grotesque figures have apparently failed to capture popular fancy.”



C. Stanley Chapman, son of Fullerton’s first mayor, Charles C. Chapman, and a city council man himself, was one of the ones who “shed no tears.” In an interview for the Cal State Fullerton Oral History Program, Chapman said: “The [mural] down there at the school was almost as absurd [as the one in the post office]. They were painted by that WPA business and the painting did not go with the architecture of the school. It was a great relief when they did paint them out. They were not an artistic addition to the building by any means”

The college student interviewing Chapman replied that superintendent Louis Plummer disagreed with this assessment: “Mr. Plummer seemed to think they were nice although he did not say so. He simply quoted a long article from the Los Angeles Times art critic who said they were lovely and truly representative and that the colors were beautiful. Mr. Plummer ends that little discourse by saying, ‘and they were painted over,’ as though he was disappointed.”

Chapman repied, “Oh, yes, the colors were good. But I have forgotten what the theme was.”

The interviewer reminded him, “Mexican entertainment; with the horses, and the children playing.”

Chapman replied, “Oh, yes, Well, the colors were nice. I don’t know. I was never involved in the school board or anything like that.”

So, what was the problem with the murals? Was it the colors? The subject matter? The decision to paint over this mural probably had to do with its subject matter. It celebrated Mexican culture at a time of great racism against Mexicans, and when Mexicans were being forcefully and illegally deported back to Mexico, because white people needed their jobs, during the Great Depression. This historical reality is described at length in the book Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s by Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez.



If C. Stanley Chapman did not like “Pastoral California,” what kind of art did he like? Inside the Chapman Theater (which became the Fox Theater), there used to be murals that were painted over when a new company took over the theater. Unlike “Pastoral California,” Chapman lamented the whitewashing of these murals: “On the walls—and I’ve often just about cried about this—on each side, there were these great big arches, and on each side a set of beautiful murals depicting early California, Portola’s landing and all that.”

Gaspar de Portola was the soldier sent by Spain in the 1700s to colonize California. It was he who began the long process of taking the land from Native Californians and forcing people into missions. He was white. The Native Californians were not. Chapman liked these murals, perhaps because they celebrated an aspect of history he agreed with.

Interestingly, the mission system, while defunct by the 20th century, was very similar to the system the Chapmans used with their Mexican workers. He said, “On our ranch, we had our own housing for them.” In the 1930s, Mexican laborers lived in “citrus towns” that were segregated from the dominant white community. This historical reality is described at length in the book Labor and Community: Mexican Citrus Worker Villages in a Southern California County 1900-1950 by Gilbert Gonzalez.



It was the subject matter of the mural that caused High School Trustees to vote to paint over the mural in 1939. “It wasn’t until we had a group of trustees in here who were negatively inclined, that it was painted over,” Sheller remembers. When asked why it was painted over, Sheller said, “Some people felt it was vulgar or gross in some way. It simply showed the Mexican women as they were probably attired at that time. They were very bosomy women. I don’t think that we would feel that there was anything wrong with it. I never felt there was.”

Reflecting upon the incident, Sheller told the interviewer, “The whole story of that Board of Trustees really ought to be told sometime, but it’s the kind of story you don’t ordinarily tell, I guess. Plummer didn’t include it in his history; he was too much of a gentleman.”

Another WPA mural “The History of California” was painted in Fulleton in 1942 by “post-surealist” artist Helen Lundberg. It is located at the former City Hall (now the Fullerton Police Station). Like "Pastoral Calfornia," it was also painted over, this time by the Fullerton Police Department, when they took over the station in 1963. This mural depicts Anglos and Mexicans seeming to work together to develop California.



“The History of California” was restored in 1993, at a cost of over $80,000. When I read about this mural in Bob Ziebell’s Fullerton: A Pictorial History, I thought: Why have I never seen it before? Here’s why. The mural is located inside the Fullerton police station, in a room not open to the public except by appointment. After reading about it, I eagerly walked over to the police station, to check it out. As I approached the entrance, I noticed a door was ajar, and I peaked inside. There was the mural! But it was half-covered by an obnoxious screen with traffic information on it, and a husky man in a polo shirt told me to leave and make an appointment and closed the door behind me. When I tried to make an appointment, the woman in charge said, due to renovation, that room will be closed for another week. Hopefully that “renovation” doesn’t include painting over the mural again.

There are other famous (and equally controversial) murals in Fullerton, located at the Lemon underpass, near Valencia. By “controversial” I mean they celebrate Mexican culture. I guess, in Fullerton, that counts as controversial. These murals, including the famous “The Town I Live In” mural, all deal with Mexican American identity. They were painted by the celebrated Chicano artist Emigdio Vasquez in the 1970s.



As recently as 2008, City Council was once again discussing painting over these public murals. Shawn Nelson, former City Councilman and current Orange County Supervisor, was quoted as saying, regarding these murals "we need to get rid of that crap, like, right now." In a snarky reply, OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano replied, “Like, you think the Virgin of Guadalupe is crap, Shawn? Like, no way!”

“Pastoral California” remained painted over for 56 years until, in 1997 it was restored, thanks to a massive community effort. I was actually attending Fullerton High School at the time. Some of my friends, art students, helped with the restoration. I remember thinking, even then: Why would anyone have painted over something so beautiful? Now I understand. In celebrating a “minority” culture, Kassler’s mural challenged the social values of his time. Art has this power. Times have changed, society has changed, and the decision to restore the mural is a testament to an evolving social consciousness in the Fullerton community.

22 comments:

  1. Those who restored the mural in the Fullerton Police Department put many painstaking ours of effort into it.

    The entire mural had not been painted over. Only the part below the false ceiling had been painted. Over the years, however, holes were cut through the walls above the false ceiling to accommodate electric conduits and air conditioning ducts. The largest hole being cut above what is the rear door.

    In the photo above, in the lower left corner, perhaps outside the frame, is an Indian woman gathering, if memory serves, sheaves of grain. When the mural was restored the nipples of the Indian woman were painted over and not by mistake. It seemed that nipples were too offensive.

    So, call this a "censored authentic" restoration.

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  2. This article was very informative. It was difficult to read yet intriguing all at once. It was also a bit related to the topic of my last essay in that it dealt with Mexican American culture, influence, and struggle. It is so important to remember that Fullerton carries a rather large history of racism against Mexican Americans. I think sometimes people forget about this part of history, but it changed the precedents of so many things that it should not be so easily looked over. It is important to remember all of those that fought for their civil rights and who have stood up for what they believe in.
    I think it is also good to remember that racism wasn't something that only existed "back in the day". It is something that still appears, in smaller ways, all over. Don't think that just because something is on a smaller scale or are better hidden means that the problems are solved. Many people still struggle with these problems and they should not be looked over or swept under the rug. They need to be heard.

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  3. I thought this article was interesting. It is important to remember our culture and the grieving of the past. This mural is a piece of history that reminds us how far we've come as human beings, including and our morals. Mexican culture is all around us. Much of Southern California is dominated with Mexican-American families. Restoring the mural was the right move for the city of Fullerton.

    Although the mural is much discussed and controversial, those critics need to focus more on what the mural is about and not only what it depicts. They need to realize the importance of remembering a "minority" culture,because they are being surrounded by the minority more and more. Mexican numbers are growing in Orange County, so we all should embrace it.

    -Natalie Sta Ana ENG 100 TR 11:00

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  4. Jolynn Guerra
    English 60 9/6/13

    Isn’t it pretty ironic that school is where we are taught History, but that same school isn’t allowed to have a piece of what is taught painted on the walls!
    Maybe these board members and supporters need to go back to school and take another class in history to be reminded of why and how our entire society even exists today. Without the Native, Mexican, and Latin Culture our very existence and way of life would be completely different. These murals and paintings show a true way of life, culture and history. Anyone who would find these murals grotesque is blinded by their own ignorance. It is sad that even to this day racism and prejudice is very abundant everywhere.
    People are usually afraid of what they don’t understand and therefore they react to things in the wrong manner; however the decision to consider the mural “doomed” is just a way to confirm that society is just repeating itself with racism and stupidity. Go ahead and try to cover up the truth however it’s not going to change anything.
    I’d like to know what wouldn’t be considered grotesque and offensive painted on the wall. A picture of a three bedroom house surrounded by a white picket fence, a dog in the yard, a two car garage with a Mercedes and BMW parked inside, in a “white” suburban neighborhood where dad is watching his 60 inch TV while mom is at the spa getting her nails done. A so called “American Dream” perfect picture! Let’s not forget how you were able to obtain this lifestyle and these materials things if our ancestors hadn’t played a major role in all of this. Personally I think the painting would be rather bland and lacking substance and color! Things that some people have obviously failed to appreciate.
    Art is exactly that, in whatever shape or form it is presented. It’s not only a form of expression or feelings it has also been used as a language and a story. No one has the right to take something from someone who has put their heart and soul into it to share with the world and destroy or cover it up. If we had more murals and paintings like the Pastoral California placed all over maybe it would open the eyes of the pitiful souls who want to disgrace our history. Truth and reality are very big pills to swallow!

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  5. Jacob Anaya
    Eng. 103
    The Story of the Mural is enlightening. It shows that racism is still very present today, no matter how small it may appear. We have come very far as a country in regards to open racism, although it still hasn’t completely gone away in some parts. Now, it is more prevalent in corporations, schools, and the internet. Open racism has become “intellectual racism.” True racists have found that their old ways of physically and verbally assaulting minorities has become obsolete since the Civil Rights Movement and the slow but steady progression of human empathy. They now have to be “discreet” with their attacks, such as, trying to paint over monumental murals that exemplify true unity and priceless culture. It is sad to see that racism has carried through so many generations and has even become smarter. It goes to show that no matter how much we grow as a race, there will always be that one fucker who won’t change his mind. The trustees from 1939 and the city council from 2008 sound like a bunch of closed-minded, bigot men with not even the slightest hint on what it means to be artistic or “not racist.” These assholes are trying to take down what is an accurate representation of being a hard worker. Hard worker as in, “get your own white artist to paint a nice white painting and then get mad at that shit because you’re too much of a prick to appreciate any form of artistic expression.” It may even be a matter of jealousy. Maybe this Chapman guy was just mad because he couldn’t paint worth of dick and had no artistic imagination. Or maybe, he was just raised eating hotdogs and hamburgers, and when he finally came across the sweet sight and smell of a carne asada torta, it boggled his fucking mind. So far as to the point where all he could do was be mad at the torta for looking and smelling so delicious. I’m glad that the Fullerton community came together and pushed for the mural to be restored. Coming together as an interracial community and taking action is really the best defense against racism. Talking shit like this to anyone who thinks like Nelson or Chapman isn’t going to change their perspective. This is just for the sake of blogging.

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  6. joe bolanos
    English 103
    tues/thurs
    This article is very interesting. It is sad to know that racism still exist after so many riots, injuries and deaths. You would really think with the knowledge today, people wouldn’t be racist. Personally I think it comes down to politics. They set the bar by segregating Hispanics, blacks, whites, poor people and rich people. No matter what there is always that separation because of the government. If we actually come together as one and realize what the government is actually doing, we would all stick together as one and go against the government. My personal belief is that the people who wanted to paint over the murals were threatened by the beauty of art that was already there. The need to paint over the murals was unnecessary. It was history and art. No matter what people say or do it is not going to erase the fact that other people who were not white were here first. These people were very closed minded to just go over these murals. They didn’t even look deep into them to actually see what was there. In my eyes, I saw love, hard work, family, non GMO foods, character, and the drive to succeed. They didn’t see the culture that was here before. They don’t realize that the buildings and everything they enjoy today is up because of the WPA. It seems like they don’t care about what they did for us. There is no appreciation in the art that was done. I like to say to there is no freedom. There was once freedom in this country and that was before politics took over. As I like to say “this is a great country, but the government sucks.” Everything is ran by the government today and people like chapman only encourage it. For instance, the US wasted money on missiles and other weapons instead of fixing roads and improving education and now might start a world war 3 because of their stupid ignorance.

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  7. James Hernandez
    English 103

    While I was reading about the murals not only was I in shock but in disbelief. Not only at the fact of the history of Mexican culture but of the racism. Growing up I has never heard the idea of Mexican slaves. I have always known about racism and to this day there still is racism to all cultures. I myself have been a victim to racism at one point in my life unfortunately. This mural issue in Fullerton seems like another form of racism. Not so much as personally attacking someone, but attacking a culture. It almost seems like Fullerton wants to erase that history and shows no respect for the Mexican culture. Unfortunately, along with myself, many people are not informed about the current issue that is happening in neighborhoods so close. No city can erase its past and take away a culture completely. Another thing that irritated me was reading that the current mayor of Fullerton saying to take that shit down. Referring to history of your city and a culture as shit upsets me. Also seeing that many people agree with him shocks me. Although it may not be a good history for Fullerton it is still their history and it should be embraced. Being Mexican-American I hope those murals never go down and all people who enter Fullerton will embrace the Mexican culture and history. Not only do murals represent history, but also a sign of hope for the people of Fullerton. There is a lot of meaning behind each and ever mural in Fullerton and the mayor wishes to wash it all away. This encourages me to find out more about my city and hope they don’t wash away any history of the city regardless of what culture it may be. Art is a great way to express history, hope, and encouragement to all people. To just forget about it all is a terrible thing to do. In La Mirada, the current city I live in, I have never noticed any murals of history. But now reading this about Fullerton makes me want to ensure no history is lost.

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  8. VICTOR PUENTE ENG-60
    I truly believe that the story about the murals was very informative. Murals are beautiful and there should be more of them around. It seems like I mostly notice murals in Latino communities like East Los Angeles. The power behind art is amazing. Without words being said a artist can strongly deliver a message. A whole story can be told through just one mural.
    We do not have any murals currently in the city I live in (Buena Park). We had one on Beach Blvd when it was “Buena Park Lumber”. New owners took over the business and painted over it.
    I was not aware of the Works Progress Administration. I have always thought that the stone work at the Hill Crest park is a wonderful sight. The mural’s in Tokers Town are nice to. I like the Virgin Mary one. I took a picture by The Town I live in mural once. Emigdio Vasquez is a great artist.
    Shawn Nelson should be ashamed of himself for calling the Virgin Mary crap. It’s only obvious that he don’t believe in the holy Virgin Mary. I bet the ignorant man had a lot of people upset with him. I am glad that the city of Fullerton never painted over the murals. A lot has been taken from us Mexican Americans already. How can they want to take away our identity also. Shawn Nelson needs to realize that this was once Mexico and us Latinos are taking it back eventually.
    I think that murals today are not appreciated. Its hard to make everyone happy, and a lot of it has to do with demographics and venue. I would like to know what the “Anglo" want's to see painted in there community. Life is not always a pretty picture. A lot of people were brought up in the “hood”, and regardless of were you live your going to see a cholo.

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  9. Nicholas Agrusa
    English 60 Wednesdays 5:30-9:45p.m.
    This story of the murals is very moving to me because it goes to show that there are still racist people in the world today and it saddens me. I am not of Hispanic decent but Italian and I believe that back in the early nineteen-hundreds Italians immigrating to America were looked at as outsiders and experienced racism. I would be devastated if art that was created by my ancestors explaining my cultural heritage were destroyed or painted over. I totally disagree with what occurred with theses murals. I believe that there was not one thing wrong with having those murals and there should never be a problem with different cultures trying to show pride in their heritage no matter what color or what religion one is. In my opinion C. Stanley Chapman was a racist and did not want that kind of art in his city because it showed a history of California that he personally did not agree with and he decides that the paintings be painted over due to his ignorance to society, and clearly history. If I remember correctly Mexican-Americans were a major factor in how many of our states were established. And I also believe that without diversity in the people would not coexist and our world would be much different. I am very proud of the history of how our nation came to be. I have no problem with knowing that our country is the prime example of foreign humans achieving the American Dream. People need to realize that with different races, cultures, and religions it gives us variety and choices to have in life instead of being ordered to be a certain way and have certain beliefs forced upon you and your family. I love learning about the different cultures we have in our community. I especially love having so much different foods to try. There are few things that different cultures share but one very important thing we share is the love of food and the pride we take in how good it is. Like I said before my family is from Italy and they are so proud of their heritage and love cooking all kinds of foods and sharing them with everybody and seeing the reactions when they eat it. If someone told my family they couldn’t cook Italian food anymore for reasons similar to the mural situation I would be very upset as well.

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  10. Carlos Osornio- T/TH 7AM Eng 103
    In the blog, “Story of a Mural,” there were many interesting key point brought about. I especially enjoyed the section of C. Stanley Chapman interview. Considering his father, being the city’s first mayor, the responses he provided during the interview where interesting to say the least. Chapman seamed to not even fully understand something in his very neighborhood and not to mention his own past. Then the situation with the police department’s mural of “The History of California,” being painted over as well. I may a little bias considering I am a Mexican American, but it should hit home to everyone that lives in California as well. Why hide from the past? I was also happy to read that through time people have really changed and became more accepting of our history, good or bad. This made learning how time has changed peoples view on art seems like art is something real and alive. In chapter two of, “Everything’s an argument” the main subject was on pathos. After reading the chapter it was interesting to know that we see pathos everywhere. Not only is it found through literature but on ads, movies, and TV. It is interesting how it plays in marketing. The use of pathos allows the audience to feel somehow emotionally tied to the subject matter. In the previous blog of, “Story of a Mural,” the artwork was a great expression of pathos. When you see the mural of a traditional Mexican American women doing laundry it made me think of the my values on hard work and labor. I am sure no one can argue different and that is the whole idea of pathos. It is used to hit the general public’s values on everything which definitely hints that it is effective and a great addition to not only writing but communicating and visual displays. Similar to the branded American flag in chapter two of ,”Everything is an argument,” there were pathos that were in play. The vision of the picture was to make the viewer think that patriotism is involved in each brand on the picture. One of the brands included the famous play boy bunny which the idea of patriotism isn’t the first thing that pops into my mind when thinking of the play boy bunny. Pathos can be used quite effectively in a persuasive essay when trying to argue a point. Similar to “Story of a Mural,” where Mr. La Tour uses pathos to show value in our history and neighborhood there could also be pathos used by someone that thinks that the moral was vulgar or inappropriate which would hit our values on family since it was located in a local high school. Again, interesting to say the least.

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  11. Amanda Ramos
    English 103

    It is amazing to me how apparent racism still is in this time and age. All history should be shared no matter whose history it belongs to. I find it interesting that the point of coming to America was to start a new beginning. Instead of embracing who was already here the Spanish felt they were superior to everyone and took over as if their intent to erase the original history of who was really here first. It seems that, that idea has been passed down to even today. I can understand why back in the 1930’s having these artist share a part of their culture could be taboo in a way. People were very ignorant back then and it is upsetting that it was taken out on the Mexican community so that the “white people” could have a better chance at a job during the depression. It is even more heartbreaking that today people are still as ignorant as they were 75 years ago.
    It is amazing that the community did come together to get the murals restored. What I don’t understand is if these murals cost thousands of dollars to restore why the board of trustees is okay with throwing away all that money to cover it up again. If that were to happen again people would fight harder to restore the history behind the mural permanently. I believe someone stated in their blog that racism today is smarter. I have to disagree with that statement. Deciding to paint over these murals is not a smart way of going about racism. It is very cowardly. Just because they have a moment of inferiority they automatically want to get rid of it. I feel that today’s real reason for having racism being so prevalent with “white people” is because they are becoming the minority. What way to feel superior again then to demand to get rid of another cultures history that they feel is not relevant to today’s society? It has everything to do with today’s society.
    I cannot believe the nerve that Shawn Nelson had to say out loud "we need to get rid of that crap, like, right now." People really need to watch what they are saying especially if they are in the position where people are constantly observing them. Let’s talk about really pissing people off. I loved that the OC Weekly called him out, and they should. The community should know the type of people they are voting for on their city’s council.
    Times are really beginning to change. Although, I have always felt we will not get the change we want until the older generation is gone and the newer generations can really make a difference.

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  12. Irving Gomez
    English 103 TR

    This article about the murals was very interesting and I enjoyed reading it. I believe it was a stupid and nonsense reason to have had them get painted over. Also I found no need in painting over them to get rid of them and then restoring them just to try and get rid of them again. I believe that in the article it said that it cost $80,000 to restore “The History of California” that’s a lot of money that could have been used to help the poor out here in Fullerton. If “The History of California cost $80,000 dollars to restore and it is very small I could only imagine how much it cost to restore “Pastoral California” this is all money that was simply thrown away just because of people that can’t have an open mind about art. To me both these murals are beautiful and have wonderful stories to tell. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen both of these murals up in person. When I was in the Fullerton Police Explorer program we did arresting techniques in the room where “The History of California” was located and I was able to view and observe this mural. “Pastoral California” was located at my old high school, Fullerton Union High School. I remember seeing this mural each time we went to go watch a Fullerton dance production and also every time I walked home. The mural “The Town I Live In” is another wonderful piece of art. This mural I see every time I go and play basketball at Lemon Park. I believe people should get their heads out of there asses and have a more open minded view towards art not everything has to be controversial or lead to an argument.
    This week’s chapter reading was interesting it talked about pathos which is argumentation based on emotion. In the text is says, “Emotional appeals are powerful tools for influencing what people think and believe”. Then the textbook goes on to say that people make a lot of decisions based on our emotions which I found to be very true. I can’t even start to explain how many ridiculously stupid choices I’ve made in my life just because I listened to my emotions. I believe that emotion is one powerful way to make an argument as long as you don’t let your emotions take over your whole argument. Overall the readings were insightful and I enjoyed reading them.

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  13. Juan Ramirez
    English 60
    Wed. 5:30pm-9:45pm

    This article was very informative and it amazes me how racism was the motive behind painting over the mural "Pastoral California" and other murals in Fullerton, It shows how racism never seems to be controlled in any way. I don't understand why someone would want to get rid of such beautiful paintings that show the history of the city and state they live in. These murals show the culture of Mexicans and painting over them is a big sign of disrespect, I don't understand why others still can't accept that we live in a country full of people from all over the world. I think we should embrace that we live in a multi-cultural country because we have the opportunity to experience something that we are not used to. I don't understand how these council men can describe the murals as "grotesque" when they are being used to show the history of this state.
    It is amazing how the community and groups of people from Fullerton came together to restore the murals and stood up for what was right, but I find it dumb that they had to pay for the mural to be restored. They could have spent that money on something better to improve the city. Chapman only wanted murals that depicted the "Anglo" way of life, that's why he wanted to paint over the murals in Fullerton. I think we have all been victims of racism at some point and it's the most awful way of offending someone.
    I find it interesting how former council member (Shawn Nelson) of Fullerton suggested that some of the murals in Fullerton should be painted over, again. In the article it says that he made a remark about the murals saying, "we need to get rid of that crap, like, right now." I thought council members were supposed to do anything possible to preserve the history that is left in their city, I guess not. Like it says in the article, "Times have changed, society has changed…" I believe that racism in times like today, should not be tolerated, especially from council members. I think these murals in Fullerton are beautiful reminders of how this state started and its roots. I believe that these murals are more than just paintings on a wall, they have a very powerful story behind them. I am glad these murals are still in Fullerton today and hopefully they remain there.

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  14. Rylie Olsen
    English 60
    Wed. Class

    I always thought that the mural at Fullerton High went perfectly with the architecture of the campus. I love the subject matter. I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures (not in a patronizing way, obviously, in a wondrous, appreciative way) and scenes in art of everyday life and celebration. While I must agree the colors never really knocked my socks off, it does make me relieved that they ended up keeping it on the auditorium—it also angers me that there was such a controversy over it. It’s understandable…actually, more typical, of that time period, but hearing of those things upsets me. They weren’t being racist out loud so no one could actually accuse them of that, and that seems absolutely frustrating to me. Stuff like that still goes on! Everything is so under-lying in our society (at least in Orange County—that’s the society I grew up in). It’s not to say that being honestly racist is any better, but at least you’d know, you know?
    People seem to forget that California belonged to Mexico for hundreds of years prior to its induction into the United States. I still see signs of the “white-washing” and I am ashamed. It is all so blatant but never said out loud. It’s cowardice. The murals belong here. I really like the mural in the Fullerton Police Station—I hope that one still remains. I like the concept of it—I like the idea that people of a different race share a home and help to build it. I know there are a lot of people who are bitter about the situation and don’t think whites should even be involved…and honestly I wish it could be remedied. It was their home—these were their cultures, their history was here. But now that we’re all stuck here together, I’d like to move forward and work together towards equality, fairness and all that because I feel it’s our only positive option at this point. Bring back and emphasize the culture of Mexico and Spain in Fullerton—it’s beautiful!
    I would like to add, as a sort of picky person, that I don’t particularly care for the art/mural on the underpass on Lemon only because it does not look aesthetically pleasing to me. The concept is absolutely fine—I just wish it could be redone in different colors and the entire bridge could be scrubbed down free of graffiti. To be honest the anatomy of some of the figures on the bridge make me chuckle a bit! If I ever had the chance I’d vote to refurbish and repaint that underpass with the same concept with perhaps even MORE scenes of culture. I’d love that.

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  15. Zoltan

    English 60

    Wednesday night

    So I guess this is a classic case of racism. Though I don't look I I am also a white male so don't think I'm Mexican claiming that this story is racist. Its obvious to see, but honestly there's racism everywhere we go. Its sad, I don't understand why people still have their racist views. Like yea I know our families instill these racist thoughts into our poor little brains as children but what causes these people to wanna be racist? Especially against Mexicans, yea it might be annoying the fact they come here illegally and take all our jobs but oh well that's what we get. I mean everybody deserves to live the life they want or at least have an opportunity to make something out of themselves. Its not their fault they were born in mexico like what if this white idiot was born in mexico and tried com in over here illegally to make a better life for his family and himself? Wed be like nope sorry bro gotta go back to mexico. These are some of the hardest working people I've ever met in my life. Which is exactly why they take the white folks jobs. Step up white people geez, also they take the jobs that a lot of other people won't which is another reasonwhy tthey're taking all the jobs. But it doesn't bother me one bit, I see Mexican dudes slavin away I'm like go Mexican guy, make that money. If I had their drive and determination shoot I'd be president. But anyway I'm sure these are the reasons this fool is all hella racist on Mexicans. I say get over it, the paintings don't bother me none, just say in.

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  16. Marissa Magana
    English 60 Wed

    I believe that murals have a story to say or an important meaning to them and shouldn't be painted over unless a natural disaster happened and got destroyed. "The Story of a Mural" states a lot of racism that still goes on but mainly towards Mexicans lately. We all know in our hearts that its not going to go away cause we been fighting for it for such a long time and look at where we are still. What really made me think in class was what Mr. La Tour had quoted from a movie saying, "Mexicans are the new Negros." Its hard to believe that but its true. But one thing is for sure that they will work their butts off for a better future for them and their families. You will hardly never see a Mexican begging or asking for money, if anything they will just be asking you for a job. I still remember the time they were trying to get rid of the mural on Lemon St. It was such a big chaos. I grew up close to there and that mural somehow makes me feel at peace and makes me feel like I'm home.
    No one should have the right to destroy any mural that has such a great meaning to the community. If you don't like it, just don't bother looking at it. Easy as that. What if the tables were turned and they wanted to destroy a historical building in Fullerton? or in any city. What would Mr. Shawn Nelson say about that? I guess he has no respect towards the Mexican culture and religion. Besides that why would someone want to cover the beautiful murals that someone put their hard work and dedication towards. But I'm still thinking of the "what if's" What if it was an American that did the mural? What if it was a mural of the American community lifestyle? Would they have paid soo much attention to them then? I have walked so many times in that hallway by the Plummer Auditorium and never really payed much attention to the mural till I read this article. Who would have known that it had/has so much meaning, good and bad to lots of people. Also its pretty amazing that Kassler painted that whole 75-foot long mural with just one hand. Now that's pretty fascinating and it's another great reason to leave it as is.
    With that said, lets just leave anything historical as is. Less drama and less angry people out there that we have to deal with..

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  17. Calletano
    English 60
    Wed 5:30-9:45

    The murals created by the WPA are great landmark in Fullerton. Not only because they gave have jobs to unemployed peopled during The Great Depression but also because they gave us hope and a glimpse of our multiculturism. So why is a naïve person such as Stanley chapman, wanting to erase the true history of the city that great man such as his ancestor Charles chapman first mayor, help to build. Because he can’t handle the true just like many of our fellow resident. Let face it, as long as there is different group of ethnicity walking on the same street, there will always be racism. People from city council that desecrated their history by painting over this painting, they did it because of racism not because the painting stand out from the buildings. In fact the colorful paintings were supposed to stand out, just like our colorful ethnicity stand out every day. These painting were valuable not because they were beautiful, but also because what they represent. The story of all Mexican American who ever walk in the soil of Fullerton? They represent a symbol of hope that even though the world is a intolerance place Fullerton is a place were any culture is accepted. On the other hand, people like Stanley they don’t care. “C. Stanley Chapman, son of Fullerton’s first mayor, Charles C. Chapman, and a city council man himself, was one of the ones who “shed no tears.”(Hibblenton magazine.) I personality think it is time for people like Stanley Chapman who are racist, to either adapt to a culture of different ethnicity or just leave kind of like they force many innocent Mexican American to leave in the 1930s. Because Fullerton is not a conservative city, now it is a new city a better city, a multicultarism city.

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  18. Jesse A. Reyes
    English 60
    Wednesday 5:30pm-9:45pm

    The “Story of a Mural”, is an interesting depiction of the early 1900’s in Orange County, and the racism and discrimination faced by the Mexican people. The mural itself is a beautiful portrait of the county’s culture and its iconic figures of those times. I tip my imaginary hat to Mr. Kessler, who with just one arm finished such a grand work of art. I was dumbfounded to read about the city councilman, Stanley Chapman, who seemed to have zero knowledge of the murals significance, or what it even looked like for that matter. For goodness sake, the mural was a federally funded art project. I suppose Mr. Chapman was just an ignorant racist. As for the blatant statement made by former councilman, Shawn Nelson, he is clear evidence that racism still has a pulse in our society. I suppose that being a racist is a prerequisite for councilmen in Fullerton. I still find it difficult to comprehend how in this modern age, in a country with a black president, and its vast mix of cultures, can such a color sensitive mindset exist. Being a racist is no longer conducive to this environment. I would like to say its outdated, or out of style, but its only been 55 years since Martin Luther King lost his life battling racial inequality. So I guess change doesn’t happen overnight. I think if we give it about 100 more years, a few more black presidents, maybe a white president with a black first lady, or vice versa, and maybe sprinkle in a Hispanic president for good measure, the term racism will only be remembered as a thing of the past.

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  19. John Park
    ENG 60
    Wed 5:30 - 9:45


    As I was reading this article, It almost angered me and I am not even Latino American. Not to be offensive in any way, I could finally understand why Latino gangs started forming. Just by reading this article, it made me angry and made me want to fight for their rights. How bad must have it been to be actually in their shoes. To be honest, I am not really into Latino art, but to be oppressed in such a way even after a long period in 2008, is absurd. California was under Mexican authority before the Spanish invasion. To think what’s taken by force is theres is completely against what they teach to their children. Why would they not apply the lessons they teach to their young themselves as responsible adults? I believe if such oppression were not existent, gangs would not have been formed first. Sure, some people would have gone through the same path regardless of their environment; however, I strongly convey the oppression of Latino-Americans had an impact on a huge portion in history. After reading this article, it makes me appreciate the Latino art. It deserves respect having withstand such oppression and death sentence. The Board of Trustees are really shady because they destroyed a valuable article of history without legitimate reasons. The fact they have such power and can move forward with such actions without any voices of the community heard is simply unfair. Why do we place The Board of “Trustees” if they perform actions with no glimpse of being trustworthy? Even until this day, some signs of oppression and racism can be found as evident in the Fullerton Police Department. By making the mural unopened to public states a strong message: This mural is highly controversial (because I am racist). It is very sad to know that racism exists until this very day in our own home town. Growing up and having been educated in American schools, the American history textbooks never dug very deep into such matters that happened in our homes just only decades ago. Even some of our Caucasian history teachers in my high school agreed all of our history textbooks are filled with European history to the American. This is another example of racism in our country. Through this article, I came to understand the Latino-Americans more. It is beautiful to see some of these revolutionists risking their reputation, even their lives to make an impact and influence the people.

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  20. Ryland Smith
    English 60

    I was unaware of these murals in the city of Fullerton. I would have never expected these being issues in a tiny town like this but it just goes to show that it doesn't matter the size of the city, they all have history. Good and bad alike. While living in Europe I saw things similar to this that had happened in the past. Murals that were painted over, or once covered and now restored. Such as ones portraying hope and freedom in Germany. Or statues in Italy that were destroyed. Many of which have been recently restored. But it really makes you wonder as you walk down the halls of an old building, and think to yourself; “is there something under this paint that was covered up years ago?”. It is great to see that social changes we have made in the past couple decades. Granted we still have much to learn and accept. I look back at the way people were fifty years ago and I just think to myself how difficult it would be for me to live in that era of time. But it also makes you wonder what 50 years from now will be like in terms of what is socially acceptable. We are at least making some progress, I can only hope that it stays going in a positive and good direction. It truly shocks me to think that a school would cover up a mural though. Of all places to cover up a mural it would be the last on my list to think of. Isn't the whole point of a school to invoke curiosity in their students? With a big mural in a hallway, I'm sure some students would walk by and say “I wonder who painted this and why they would”. Which then students would go and try to fulfill their curiosity and find the answer they seek.

    After reading Chapter 2 of our “Steps to Writing Well” book, I began to think about the way that I write. As someone that enjoys conversations I find writing essays very dull and boring. But after thinking about what I want my essay to be about for class I'm excited to put some of the new writing techniques to the test. I like how the book gave us many different examples of how sentences could be written. And how good or bad they are compared to each other. It is just a unique way to teaching compared to what I'm used to.

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  21. ELIZABETH CRUZ
    ENGL 60

    The "Story of the Mural" is something I have never heard of as a matter a fact I don't know much about The city of Fullerton, and the more i learn about it the more interesting it gets.The first paragraph about the major public art projects in Fullerton that were commissioned during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration and which was created by Franklin D. Roosevelt to put America to work at a time when lots of people needed jobs really caught me into reading more, Because i have learned about the great depression and how finding jobs was the main thing to have in able to survive. But what i liked the most about this article was the history of Charles Kassler, And how he only had one hand and yet still managed to paint, Also how his drawing showed a bit of racism with in they city of Fullerton, because of the people drawn in this artistic picture,the community being mostly white. For example,Stanley C. Chapman the son of Fullerton's first mayor who had an interview for the Cal State Fullerton Oral History Program and had a careless respond to the Mural painting saying things like "it didn't go with the agriculture with the school" and that it was a "great relief when they did paint them out. They were not an artistic addition to the building by any means”. I believe that that shows a form of a coward. Perhaps my self being a Hispanic or Latina whatever they both seem same to me, that have care to things like this even though it happen while back, although i never knew this little Art history about Fullerton, I mean I am from Los Angeles and I've lived before in East L.a and i knew about the racial discrimination, but i never knew that their was much of that here in Orange County neither less the city of Fullerton. The story of this mural amazes me and now know why it was painted over also how it was finally restored. how it said in the beginning, It "is a story of conflict, racism, oppression, and the evolving social values of a community."
    Even though their still exist racism, I am glad theirs not as much discrimination with in races and people are influenced to learn about each others races.

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  22. Yale has just posted 170,000 Great Depression-era photos on a website. The only result when searching for Fullerton, California is one showing a bit of the mural.

    http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa2000001049/PP

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