It's a little astonishing and puzzling that it would take Fullerton College, the oldest community college in California, nearly 100 years to commission an exterior mural on one of their buildings. People may say that the reason is to preserve the historical character of the buildings, but if that were the case the college would not have destroyed a WPA building, as they did about a year ago. In a recent interview, Dean of Fine Arts Bob Jensen attributed the lack of public art commissions to something he calls "Imagination Deficit Disorder."
Thankfully, things are changing. Just this year, the college commissioned artist-in-residence Marlo Bartels to do the first exterior mural ever. It's a large mosaic on the side of the art building.
I had the pleasure of watching the artist's assistant prepare the wall for the mural, and to speak with Robert Jensen about his hopes for future murals:
"Part of the Fullerton College Centennial are a number of public art commissions," Jensen said, "One that is currently underway is an 8 by 20 foot ceramic mural of orange crate art that represents groves that were on this city block, the plants and animals that were indigenous to the natural history of this area, and people like Leo Fender, the Chapmans, the Bastanchurys, the Yorbas who are part of the history of this place. Our artist in residence, Marlo Bartels, who is doing the mural, has been painting and firing the tiles for the mural both at his studio and at our own ceramics studio. This mural is exciting because it's the first exterior mural we've done, so we're hoping it will light up some imaginations for more exterior murals."
One of the goals of the Fullerton College Centenniel, which I am on the history committee of, is to bring an end to "Imagination Deficit Disorder." To learn more about the commissions, exhibits, and how you can get involved, please visit their site: www.fullertoncollegecentennial.com