Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles

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Volume 10, Number 4 --Winter, 2001




Winter and Spring tours set; more to be announced

by Robin Dunitz with Bill Lasarow


The first two scheduled mural bus tours for 2001 will be among the most popular on the Mural Conservancy’s roster. The February visit to selected Metro Rail stations brings tour goers to the art via the underground trains. The last East Los Angeles tour produced a long waiting list for the next one, so if you want a seat on the May Cinco de Mayo bus please act promptly--availability will be quite limited.

According to tour director Robin Dunitz demand is such that quite a few more tours might be scheduled, but the tour committee is in need of more volunteers interested in participating either as docent-trainees or in helping with logistics. Dunitz will be spending more time during the upcoming year doing post-graduate work (in art history, in case you’re wondering). In keeping with MCLA’s long-standing practice of operating without paid staff, the quantity of programming is directly proportional to the volunteers who are able to help out. Call or write the Mural Conservancy for information.

The first tour of the year will be on Saturday, February 24th, the Metro Rail Art Tour. Beginning at Union Station, we will take the trains and visit Red Line subway stations in the morning and selected Blue and Green line stops in the afternoon. We will be seeing sculpture and functional art as well as murals. Ticket price for this one is the special rate of $15 ($10 for members, students, low income).

Then on Saturday, May 5th, celebrate the holiday with our Cinco de Mayo Mural Tour. This is a muralist-led (artist to be announced--trust us, you’ll be pleased!) bus tour of major murals by local Chicano artists. We will also connect up with Eastside festivities in celebration of this important Mexican American holiday. Tickets are the regular price of $25 ($20 for members, students, low-income students).

Additional 2001 tours will be announced in the next Newsletter.

Tours generally last all day (from about 9 AM to 5 PM). There is always a 45-minute to one hour lunch stop where participants are on their own near a selection of eateries. For information on any of the tours, or for reservations, call MCLA at (818) 487-0416. Checks should be made out to MCLA and sent to PO Box 5483, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413.


The Mural Doctor: Nathan Zakheim



It’s been over a year since we last ran conservator Nathan Zakheim’s helpful insights to the technical process of mural-making. Artists have been sending in questions relating to their mural projects for a long time, and these often served as the basis for treating a particular issue in article form. With this issue we are going with a question-response format, and have selected several recent queries that we think will be of general interest.

Have your own question? Mail it to the Mural Doctor at MCLA, PO Box 5483, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413, or by by e-mail to mcla@ Note: we omit names of those questions selected for the Newsletter in favor of the questioner’s initials only; it’s their substance, not who posed them, that’s important.--Ed.



Nathan Zakheim,
the Mural Doctor.
[no screen size image]

Question--First, I am glad an organization like yours exists and is keeping the mural tradition alive. I primarily paint murals in the San Fernando Valley. I will be starting a new community mural and have been given a healthy budget. I want to experiment with new materials on this project, especially with the primers. I would like to know the best primer on the market for a smooth concrete wall that is located on an underpass. I will be using Nova Colors, and the mural will be protected with an anti-graffiti wax coating. I was reading one of the articles about primers, and it mentions an epoxy system followed by an opaque primer or I am assuming a gesso. I would like some more information about this and would like a brand name for the epoxy system. I am concerned about this mural because it is very smooth and not as porous as other walls I have painted on.
--M.O., Los Angeles


Response--The best preparation for your wall is to wash it with muriatic acid (be careful! it burns!). This will remove silicone used as a mold release that will also release your mural paints! After the muriatic acid has been applied and the wall stops "fizzing" then rinse it off, and apply Nova Gloss Medium and Varnish to the raw concrete diluted 10% with de-ionized water and mixed with 1/4 tsp of Basic H (Shaklee) per gallon. This should be thoroughly mixed with an electric mixing tool on your drill motor.

The mixture can be applied using sprayers or rollers, AND MUST BE APPLIED OVER AND OVER (20 APPLICATIONS) UNTIL THE WALL WILL HOLD NO MORE! You will be AMAZED at how much of this material the wall will absorb! It is VITAL that the Nova mixture NOT BE ALLOWED TO DRY BETWEEN APPLICATIONS. It is "WET ON WET" all the way! When the wall CAN TAKE NO MORE then allow it to dry for a week or so. After that time, use Nova Gesso with Gloss Medium and Varnish mixed in to give it more GRIP! (Add about 1/8 volume Nova Varnish).

When you paint your picture, it will stay for about 100 years (read my lips!) unless you use fugitive colors. For longevity, don't use any colors with a lightfastness co-efficient of over three (one to three should be your range).

When you paint, USE GLOSS MEDIUM AND VARNISH TO CREATE GLAZES, NOT WATER! If you use water, there will not be enough medium in the paint to keep it on the wall for very long!

Try not to use Gloss Medium and Varnish as a final varnish, as it will ABSORB SMOG, GRIME AND OTHER YUCK AND THEN TURN BROWN! Use Soluvar (Permanent Pigments Inc.) or an equivalent. You will be happy with the result!

Q--I am an artist based in London-England. I have been approached to work with a community group to produce a mural. Despite having past experience of this nature I have not attempted an outdoor piece. The wall is red brick, and I am unsure as to the best paint/primer to use. I have met the American artist that produced the "community bridge" mural, which I believe was in San Francisco, and I remember him mentioning the use of a very hardy German paint. I hope you can assist me in this matter.
--E.R., London, England

R--If the red brick is old, covered with grime, mold, lichen, etc, it should be sand-blasted or at least pressure washed before attempting to seal it. If there are deep mortar lines will this make it difficult to use as a painting surface?

After the wall has been water blasted or sandblasted, dilute a Rhoplex-based acrylic emulsion with about 10% water and a few drops of some sort of wetting agent such as Shaklee Basic H.

You can source the Rhoplex medium and varnish by contacting the conservation departments of any large art museum in England, and they will direct you to a local source. I hesitate to recommend further, as I am aware that materials that are available in England are often much different that those to be had in the United States.

Apply the diluted emulsion in as many coats as possible without drying in between. When the surface will accept no more, then let it dry for a few days if you have warm weather, and a week or more in cold/wet weather.

When the Rhoplex is dry, then you can gesso as you like, and then prepare to paint.

I am almost certain that the German paint system to which you refer is called KEIM and there is a distributor somewhere in England. If you have internet access, then you can search out their web site, or try to call the company in Germany. It is a system of mineral-based paint, and there are examples of certain masonry buildings painted with KEIM that are as bright as the day they were painted even after 100 years!

Q--I have recently completed my first mural in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and I have been searching for anti-graffiti strategies. From my research it seems that Soluvar varnish is the best option for my situation. I have read Art Mortimer's article on making one's own Soluvar-type varnish and found it very useful, although I am unsure if I will be able to find the resins needed. More to the point, is there a recipe for making smaller, ready-to-use, quantities of soluvar-type varnish? I need to cover an area of approximately 660 square feet, and I do not require any more.
--A.W., Ontario, Canada

R--Soluvar can be purchased from a number of art supply stores nationwide. It is made by "Permanent Pigments", which also manufactures Liquitex.

In Los Angeles, World Supply on Caheuenga Blvd. sells it in quart size which can be reduced by up to 50% in VM&P Naptha. Conservation Support Systems in Santa Barbara also sells Acrylloid B-67 in liquid as well as crystal form (this with the addition of 10% Acrylloid F-10 equals Soluvar). Phone: 805.682.9843 (Ask for Scott).

To cover 660 square feet, you will need about three to four quarts of Soluvar, and you can dilute it by up to 50%. It is best applied by spray (airless sprayer) and about three thinned coats would be indicated. It is much harder to apply with a roller, and you cannot overlap or go over the surface twice. . . .better use a spray outfit! You can get a small HVLP one quart sprayer from Home Depot for less than $200.00, and that will do a SUPERB job! You may have to fill the cup eight times, but it is an inexpensive solution, and you will find a million uses for the sprayer including varnishing your other paintings with Soluvar or Beva Varnish for spectacular results!

Q--I have a question for you regarding mural protection. After searching on the web, your site was refrerred to and after scanning through, its seems appropriate that I contact you, as you are obviously experts in this field.

I work for Rolls-Royce & Bentley Motor Cars in England and have recently painted a mural (Wizard of Oz) for a local charity organisation. The mural needs a protective layer and I do not know what to use. The paint used is a water based emulsion, and I have used a permanent marker pen to highlight the main figures. I initially applied an undercoat to the freshly plastered internal wall. Apparantly a varnish would crack the paint and so another form of protection is needed; one that will protect the mural from dirt and wear and that will allow the mural to be easily cleaned.
--D.R., England

R--Thank you for your inquiry! That is what MCLA is all about. We are entirely operated by voluntees who are largely art professionals, conservators and muralists.


If your mural is indoors, it can be first coated with a clear emulsion (Rhoplex-based). You can use a Liquitex Emulsion Varnish, or an equivalent (Lascaux?, Golden?). When the gloss varnish has been applied by spray or sponge and allowed to dry for a week, then you can spray on a coat of Paraloid B-67 modified with10% of Paraloid F-10.

If you have Soluvar from Permanent Pigments or any solvent based Golden Varnish, it will be simpler. You can get the Paraloid products from a conservation supply center which you can track down through the conservation department of your larger museums.





All murals located within the City of Los Angeles, whether on public or private property, and whether City-sponsored or painted by independent artists or organizations, must obtain final approval from the Cultural Affairs Commission before they are executed.

The procedure for approval of murals is as follows: (1) Obtain an application from the Murals Coordinator at the City of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs Department. Applications may be mailed or faxed by calling (213) 485-9570 to request a Mural Application. (2) Schedule an appointment to submit Mural Application and all necessary support documents to the Cultural Affairs Deptartment. (3) Once submitted murals are placed on the next Public Art Committee meeting agenda, attend Public Art Committee meeting and answer any questions about the project. (4) Attend Cultural Affairs Commission meeting and answer any questions about the project. Obtain conceptual and final approval from the Commission.

Joe Smoke
Public Art Coordinator, L.A. Cultural Affairs Department




compiled by Robin Dunitz


The following new murals were completed through October, 2001. If you want your public to know about your newest mural, please send the information, along with a picture if possible, to:
Robin Dunitz, PO Box 5483, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413.
Or you can call (818) 487-0416


June Edmonds, Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky, Algin Sutton Recreation Center, pool house, 8800 Hoover Street (at Manchester), South Los Angeles, 1999. Venetian Glass Mosaic.
The mural is based on an ancient West African story explaining the presence of the sun and the moon in the sky.

Herbert Guerra (student at Cal State Northridge) with five students from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Untitled (ROTC-Themed), Highland
High School ROTC bungalow, Palmdale, 2000. Jet fighter in flight bordered by a golden eagle on one side, and the ROTC bulldog patch on the other.

Pedro Pelayo, Using Your Imagination, Westmont Community Center, exterior, 1808 West Ninth Street , Pomona, 2000. Acrylic on stucco.
Using his own children as well as regulars at the park as models, the artist shows people reading, playing sports and flying. In the center, to obscure distracting windows, he's painted an ethereal pet heaven.

Pedro Pelayo, assisted by Vincent Saucedo, Reaching for the Stars, Washington Park Community Center, exterior, 865 East Grand Avenue (at Towne Ave.), Pomona, 2000.
Acrylic on stucco. A local homeboy, thinking about his future, is surrounded by positive imagery--of the Virgin Mary, a graduating student, plus sports and music at the park.


Pedro Pelayo, "Using Your Imagination" (detail), 1808 West Ninth Street, Pomona, 2000.

Pedro Pelayo, "Using Your Imagination" (detail), 1808 West Ninth Street, Pomona, 2000.


Artist(s) unknown, Walls of Reflection, Wilbur Avenue Elementary School, 5213 Crebs Avenue, Tarzana, 2000. Sponsored by Wilbur's Booster Club with funding from the L.A. Board of Public Works and ICI Dulux/Sinclair Paint in Tarzana.
Includes 13 murals on outdoor walls and basketball backboards as part of revitalization of the school. Paintings with inspirational messages, such as "soar," "aim high," and "imagine" against a background of sky and mountains. Multicolored handprints adorn some of them.

Herbert Guerra (student at Cal State Northridge) with five students from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Untitled (ROTC-Themed), Highland High School ROTC bungalow, Palmdale, 2000.
Jet fighter in flight bordered by a golden eagle on one side, and the ROTC bulldog patch on the other.

Designed by Elizabeth Eve, painted by Riley Forsythe of Walldogs and Elizabeth Eve, Meeting of Minds, Mercado la Paloma, 3655 Hope Street (near 36th Street) (mural on Hope St.), Los Angeles, 2000. Acrylic, 121' x 30'.
An outdoor marketplace seamlessly combines images from marketplaces around the world and combines ideas from the last millenium through to the present and looking forward into the future.


Roland Miller and David Burke,
"Symphony in Diffused Palette," mural,
151 W. 30th St., Los Angeles, 2000.

Roland Miller and David Burke, Symphony in Diffused Palette, John Adams Middle School, 151 West 30th Street (mural on playground facing Broadway), Los Angeles, 2000. Sponsored by Hollywood Beautification.
Large, jazz-themed mural.

Ernesto de la Loza, Tapestry of the Millenium, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), exterior 1521 Wilshire Boulevard (between Union and Valencia), Mid-city L.A., 2000. Acrylic.


Barbara Gesshel, This Land Was Made for You and Me, 93rd Street Elementary School, exterior schoolyard, 330 East 93rd Street (at San Pedro Street), South Los Angeles, 2000. Acrylic on stucco, 3 panels, 13' x 70'.
Illustration of Woody Guthrie's anthem, "This Land is Your Land."

Eloy Torrez, no title given, South Central Animal Shelter, exterior and interior, 3612 11th Avenue (at 36th Street), South Los Angeles, 2000. Acrylic, 2 exterior panels and one interior panel. Sponsored by the L.A. Cultural Affairs Dept. for the Public Works Improvement Arts Program on behalf of the Dept. of Animal Regulations.
Scenes of people taking care of pets.

Barbara Gesshel, "This Land Was Made for
You and Me, 93rd Street Elementary School,
exterior schoolyard, 330 East 93rd Street (at
San Pedro Street), South Los Angeles, 2000.


Elliott Pinkney, Adventures in Learning, Agnes Elementary School, Agnes Street at Ernestine Avenue, Lynwood, 2000.

James Hamblin with Jim Piper and Matthew Whittmer, Untitled, Pantages Theatre, stage door VIP entrance, Hollywood Boulevard at Argyle, Hollywood, 2000.
Theatergoers outside the Pantages in 1930. Donors, such as Carol Burnett and Doris Roberts, were used as some of the mural's models.


Ernesto de la Loza, "Carnaval," mural,
Silverlake Blvd. at the 101 Freeway
underpass, Silverlake, 2000.

Annie Sperling, "Ghosts of Silverlake,"
Silverlake Boulevard at the 101 underpass,
west facing (north end), Silverlake, 2000.

Michael Wright supervising 4th and 5th grade students from West Hollywood Elementary School, Untitled (Landscape), San Vicente Boulevard just south of Hammond Street, West Hollywood, 2000. Funded by the California Dept. of Health Services and the US. Dept. of Agriculture, under the auspices of Performing Tree and Healthy West Hollywood.
The mural depicts a wizard (the school's mascot), the food group pyramid, a river and the Golden State Freeway stretch known as "The Grapevine."

Elliott Pinkney, Community Involvement, Youth Opportunity Center, 4th and Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach, 2000. Acrylic.

Ernesto de la Loza, Carnaval, Silverlake Boulevard at the 101 underpass, east facing (south end), Silverlake, 2000. Acrylic on concrete. One of eight panels to be completed by various artists at this underpass as part of a project called Gateway to Silverlake 2000.

Annie Sperling, Ghosts of Silverlake, Silverlake Boulevard at the 101 underpass, west facing (north end), Silverlake, 2000. Acrylic on concrete. Part of Gateway to Silverlake 2000.






John Pugh, Valentine's Day, Crossroads Christian Outside of Los Angeles County

Rebecca Guzak, Justice Through Time, San Bernardino County Courthouse, Foothill and Haven, Rancho Cucamonga, 1991. 6' x 95'.

Claudia Fernety, The Children's Mural: Peace Through Education, Eleanor Roosevelt Global Classroom, interior 2 panels, United Nations Building, Balboa Park, San Diego, 2000.
The theme of the mural is the United Nations and educating children. The female figure in the left panel symbolizes the UN. The banner being carried by 2 doves above her head contain the first words of the Preamble of the UN's Charter. Among the children in the right panel is a young Eleanor Roosevelt, the first United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Claudia Fernety, "The Children's Mural:
Peace Through Education," Eleanor
Roosevelt Global Classroom, interior one of
two panels, United Nations Building,
Balboa Park, San Diego, 2000.

John Pugh, "Valentine's Day," Crossroads
Christian Bookstore, exterior, Adobe
Road at Gorgonia, Twentynine Palms, 2000

Bookstore, exterior, Adobe Road at Gorgonia, Twentynine Palms, 2000. 15' x 50'.
Ostensibly the subject is cattle rustling in the Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park, where the McHaney gang rebranded cattle for resale. However, the historical theme is not the only subject. Another story being told is about what happened to an artist while he was sleeping on the job. And yet a third portrays the mural creation process itself. While the artist is dreaming about "Cattle Days," a rodeo bull named Valentine is morphed into 3-D reality next to the scaffolding. The mural has been intentionally left unfinished.




The imminent departure of General Manager Adolfo Nodal from the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department is the most significant among a flurry of departures and staff juggling that will at least mean a lot of new faces for the local art community to get to know.

For the last dozen years Cultural Affairs has not only been a regular and consistent supporter of the Mural Conservancy’s mission, it has reflected Nodal’s energetic advocacy of artists’ interests and the intersection of the arts in the general community.

The scope and size of the department’s grant program was significantly expanded early in Nodal’s tenure (during the Tom Bradley administration at City Hall) to enable funding of a greater variety of non-profit organizations than had previously been possible. Individual artist grants also became a feature that has remained, thanks in part to Nodal’s unwavering support for them even as national events led to their elimination at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). More recently organizational grants were divided into two categories to better account for the funding of smaller organizations that previously had to compete directly against much larger ones.

Among the staff changes of greatest interest to MCLA’s supporters, Joe Smoke has moved from his position managing the Cultural and Regional Grants Program to manage the City’s Youth Arts and Education Division. Smoke was a very available, responsive and sympathetic partner throughout his tenure, and will be missed. Replacing him is Arleen Chikami.

--Bill Lasarow




Yes, “Going to the Olympics” is on its way back. When we first reported on the re-commissioning of the mural by the Los Angeles Amateur Athletic Foundations (LAAAF) six months back it was thought the newly minted version of the mural would be completed before the end of the year. However, more preparation work on the wall was required than originally anticipated--not to mention the simple logistics of the always busy artist.

After careful inspection, it was decided that the entire lower portion of the mural would have to be water-blasted back to the bare wall, which would also have to receive a treatment of muriatic acid. Finally a fresh application of sizing had to be applied before fresh paint goes on. At we go to press the wall preparation has been completed. The new image may be taking shape--at long last--even as you read this Newsletter.





Mark Bowerman, "Running", Hollywood Freeway at the Western Ave. bus turnout.
East Los Streetscapers, "El Corrido de Boyle Heights", East L.A. at Soto St. and Brooklyn Ave.
Kent Twitchell, "Seventh Street Altarpiece: Jim Morphesis", Harbor Freeway, 7th St. underpass.
Kent Twitchell, "Seventh Street Altarpiece: Lita Albuquerque", Harbor Freeway, 7th St. underpass.
Chicana Center Artists, "Tree of Knowledge", East L.A. at Brooklyn and Hazard.
Frank Romero, "Going to the Olympics", Hollywood Freeway west of Alameda St. underpass.
Alonzo Davis, "Eye on '84", Harbor Freeway, at 3rd St. ramp.
Margaret Garcia, "Two Blue Whales", Venice at 12901 Venice Bl.
David Botello, "Read Between the Lines", East L.A. at Olympic Blvd. and Ford.
Kent Twitchell, "Strother Martin", East Hollywood at Kingsley Dr. and Fountain Ave.
Noa Bornstein, "Magritte in Los Angeles", Inglewood at Imperial Hwy and La Cienega Blvd.
Judith von Euer, "Flow Inversion", 100 N. Fremont, east facing outer wall of the Harbor Freeway at First St.
Annie Sperling, "Mural for Peace", Silverlake at Hyperion St. and Sunset Blvd.
Russell Carlton, "Heavenly Garden of Knowlege", Santa Monica Freeway west of the National Blvd. exit.
Thomas Suriya, "You Are the Star", downtown Hollywood on Wilcox, south of Hollywood Blvd.
John Wehrle, "Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo", downtown L.A., on the Hollywood Freeway slot, at Spring St.
Rip Cronk, "Venice Reconstituted", Venice, 25 Windward Ave.
Mario Torero, Rocky, El Lton and Zade, "We Are Not a Minority", East L.A. at 3217 E. Olympic Blvd.
Wayne Healy, "Ghosts of the Barrio", Ramona Gardens, East L.A. at Building 2731-37 Lancaster Ave. near Murchison.
Rueben Brucelyn, “Eyes”, Glendale Blvd. at the Sunset Blvd. underpass, Echo Park.
Ernesto de la Loza, “Ressurection of the Green Planet”, Boyle Heights, 2242 Avenida Cesar Chavez (at Breed St.).




If you are an artist who has created a public mural, or if you know and love a public

mural that needs protection, the Mural Rescue Program provides important services

for a select group of murals based on the following criteria:
• Aesthetic merit • Geographic and cultural diversity
• Feasibility • Public Access
To order an application call or write the Mural Conservancy:
(818) 487-0416, PO Box 5483, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413-5483

Or, print out a form directly from our Web site:



by Orville O. Clarke, Jr.


Frank Matranga, "Pony Express,"
ceramic tile mural (one of seven),
Escondido, CA Sears store
(now torn down), 1970.

Frank Matranga, "Pony Express,"
ceramic tile mural (one of seven),
Escondido, CA Sears store
(now torn down), 1970.

Frank Matranga, "Pony Express,"
ceramic tile mural (one of seven),
Escondido, CA Sears store
(now torn down), 1970.

Sometimes the good guys win. Well, maybe not win, but they sure don't lose. This is one of those stories. One with a happy ending. Well, maybe not totally happy, but a lot better than sad. It started a long time ago. . . .
Frank Matranga has been a ceramic artist for over forty years. He attended California State University, Los Angeles with hopes of becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, the host of jobs that he dreamed of choosing from never materialized. He was offered one job teaching at a high school. That is the good news. The bad news was that it was teaching ceramics about which he knew nothing. So, Frank quickly took a summer class in ceramics to prepare for his new job. He had found his calling. He fell in love with clay. He quickly changed his major and finished his Masters in Art. He later studied for a year at the University of Southern California, where he honed his skills.

In 1961 he opened his first studio in Redondo Beach and continued to teach in the Los Angeles Community College system until 1980, when he was able to devote his energies full time to his art. A lot of life is being in the right spot at the right time and being able to capitalize on the opportunities. This is where our tale gets fun.

It begins with a ceramic student of Frank’s who was an associate at Robert Clements Associates. This architectural firm designed stores for Sears. His student mentioned to him that they were designing a new building which included ceramic murals in the interior and thought he should submit designs for the commission. Frank was one of a number of artists who interviewed for the project. However, the firm loved his concepts and art, so he was awarded the contract.

With $10,000 to start the project, he took a leave of absence from teaching and hired three of his former students as assistants. The first step was to buy the 38 tons of clay that the job would require. He then rented out a tile company so they could create the tiles and fire them. Frank was to create seven murals, each 20 by 30 feet, and each celebrating part of the history of San Diego and Escondido, where the store was to be constructed. First a slab of clay was laid out on the floor in the size of the finished panel. Then the team of artists sculpted the design in the clay. When completed, the panel was cut into approximately 12 by 15 inch sections to be fired. The artist was careful in his cutting to have the sections follow the natural contours of the designs, so that visitors would not notice lines in the completed mural. It took a year to finish the seven panels.


The thousands of fired tiles were finally installed in Sears in 1970 by a professional tile company to insure that the sections were aligned perfectly. The seven panels depicted the first church and school in Escondido; the Pony Express delivering the mail; Mission San Diego and Father Serra; Sailing in Mission Bay; Juan Cabrillo landing at San Diego Bay; The Palomar Observatory; and the Battle of San Pasqual.

Unfortunately, the Sear's building was sold in the late 1970s to Fedco, which destroyed three of the murals: the first church and school in Escondido; the Pony Express delivering the mail; and Mission San Diego with Father Serra. Fedco then went out of business and Home Depot bought the building, announcing plans to level it and build a new store. That was when citizens mobilized to save the four remaining murals. It is often said that no one in Southern California cares about preserving our heritage; but this is one case where just the opposite is true. Rob James negotiated with the Alamo Group (Home Depot's parent company) who sold him the four murals for a nominal fee. The publicity that had been generated was so powerful that the company stopped their construction plans until the murals were safely down. They will be stored by Home Depot until a new permanent home is found.

Currently two of the murals are on display in James’ Architectural firm's offices. The City of Escondido is looking for a home for the other two. It is a happy resolution to an almost tragic story: four of the seven murals were saved by the diligence of concerned citizens. And. . . .Frank was just asked to create a 7 by 16 foot mural to commemorate the Battle of San Pasqual. By the way, you can see more of Frank Matranga's ceramic murals in these Los Angeles Public Libraries: City of Diamond Bar, La Cañada, West Gardena, La Verne, Marina Del Ray, and View Park in Baldwin Hills.



by Robin Dunitz


Pomona is attracting a growing number of artists, many fleeing the high rents in Los Angeles and settling in the downtown Arts Colony. Out in the community muralist Pedro Pelayo is transforming local parks with his vibrant multicultural murals full of children playing and dreaming of a fulfilling future.

Pelayo, originally, from San Francisco, began doing murals in East L.A. shortly after moving to southern California in 1977. In 1979 he assisted Bill Butler on “Respect What You See,” a still extant mural of Raza pride across the street from Self Help Graphics. Then in the early 1980s he spent about a year working with young residents of the William Mead Homes on a mural that featured an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe along with dramatic scenes showing the consequences of drugs and violence.

In 1986 Pelayo moved to Pomona after graduating from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in illustration. Disillusioned by the difficulty of making a living as an artist while trying to support a family, he spent the next 12 years driving a truck. Finally in 1998, he was ready to get back into murals.


Pedro Pelayo, "Using Your Imagination," 1808 West Ninth Street, Pomona, 2000.

He approached the City of Pomona Recreation Department and was soon painting a mural at Westmont Park. With support from local city councilperson Christina Carisoza, Pelayo next did a mural at Washington Park and is currently finishing his third at Philadelphia Park. He is hoping to add a teaching component to his work so that he can better involve local youth.

In the near future, the Mural Conservancy will be offering a closer look at the murals in the Pomona area with a tour of Pomona, Claremont, Upland and the City of Hope. Watch for news of this new tour.