“Friends of Diego” Newsletter

March, 2024

Dear Friends of Diego, 

As I watch the mural being de-installed, it is hard to believe that the mural’s 30 month stay at SFMOMA is over. Many on this team worked on installing the masterpiece. The world-class, multi-talented team is exactly what the mural merits. From the heady day of its unveiling, the mural has been showered with love by the over 600,000 visitors who have stood in awe of Rivera’s brilliance. After 80 years the mural finally got the exposure, it deserved. To put the number of SFMOMA visitors in context, a little history.


 Upper Panel 1 being lowered. Photo: Will Maynez


Almost immediately after his arrival on June 5, 1940, Rivera decided to make the mural much larger by adding two panels at either end to those 6 panels he had contracted to paint.

Rivera’s contracted for this 6-panel mural. Photo: Ansel Adams, c. June 5, 1940


Seven weeks later, on July 25 Rivera had the scaffolding taken down to unveil the full-scale sinopia preparatory drawing on 10 panels. [Note: the lower edge of the mural is 14′ off the ground. Pflueger planned to mount the mural over the books in the new library’s reading room. Unfortunately, this would have made the mural visually inaccessible, and tours would have been difficult in a quiet reading room. At the Golden Gate International Exposition’s “Art in Action” program, since Diego was 30′ above, Miné Okubo demonstrated at ground level how to paint a fresco (at 2:12). In the sinopia drawing, Rivera had not yet included Timothy Pflueger in the lower center. Trotsky had not yet been assassinated, so the bloody murder weapon was not in Stalin’s hand.]

Sinopia drawing c. July 25, 1940. Unknown GGIE photographer. 


If he started painting his fresco by July 29 after the scaffolding was re-erected, Diego would have only painted half the mural on September 29, when the GGIE’s second season closed. Now, Rivera and a small crew worked in the dank airplane hangar and painted the second half of the mural without an audience. They had a small hot plate to keep their hands warm against the chilly fall weather on the bay. 


Francisco Eppens Helguera commented, “What always impressed me the most about Diego— he replied, after a long silence— was his capacity to work. He could paint for hours on end, with unbelievable stamina.” Diego finished and signed the 22′ x 74′ mural, 1628 square feet, on November 29, 1940, the date of an evening private viewing. How many attended is unknown, though the SFAI archives has lists of invitees. Diego’s list had Hollywood people, but who knows which ones came. In any case the numbers were modest.


The finished mural finally opened to the public a couple of days later on December 1:


“The occasion was a preview of Diego Rivera’s vast, super colossal, and possibly slightly dizzying fresco mural,” “open house a great success”, “more than 1,000 motorists,” “Silent memorial service for the GGIE…,” (SF Exam, 12.2.40, p.8)


So even the crowds of the public showing were modest, maybe several thousands. Perhaps, only 5,000 saw the finished mural before it was crated. The mural went into storage for 20 years. Architect Timothy Pflueger, who died in 1946 and Diego Rivera, who died in 1957, never saw the mural again.


Over the 60 years the mural was in the lobby of the little theater at CCSF, visitors numbered in the several thousands. Lacking signage, the mural was hard to find on campus and only die-heart Rivera fans made the long trek to City College. Even then, quite often the mural was not publicly available. College theatrical and musical performances were a modest, periodic draw. Outside school groups came at their own initiative. The mural had been woefully underappreciated and Diego’s daughter, Lupe, pointed it out, often. In 2017 when the CCSF interim Chancellor asked me to hear SFMOMA’s offer, then museum director Neal Benezra enticed me by promising that the mural would “never ever be little-known” again. He was true to his word. However, the mural’s long-term stewardship is the looming question. Even while in storage, the mural will require periodic inspections. It is imperative that protocols be put in place by the College to maintain the mural’s current pristine condition.


The mural’s stay at SFMOMA ended January 21, but it went out with a bang. Repeat visitors were numerous and some people said that this was their 5th visit. Having the mural publicly accessible for free was a big draw. On the last Saturday one woman told me that she left LA at 6 am to not miss another chance to see the masterpiece. Diver Helen Crlenkovich’s daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter came.  Daughter Bari Lee had already come by several times from Santa Cruz. (Pflueger took Rivera to see the diver practicing at the Fairmont Hotel’s Terrace Plunge, now the Tonga Room.)


The resurgence of the Moscone Center, just down Howard Street from the museum, was an unexpected boon. For a couple of years, a variety of professional groups came by to see the mural, while at their international conferences. The papers reported 12,000 architects came to one conference. In addition, psychiatrists, computer game developers, cyber security professionals, and others came by to see the mural during their visit to San Francisco. The mural was a goodwill ambassador for the city. The quantity of foot traffic gave the mural world-wide exposure. Thousands of students came through SFMOMA’s outreach.


The litigation between SFMOMA and CCSF was resolved amicably. (SFMOMA and CCSF Joint Press Statement.) The mural was prepared for the move to CCSF as conservators protected vulnerable edges with cyclododecane. This wonderful concoction eventually sublimates without leaving any traces on the mural panels. The first panels arrived at CCSF on March 9 and the whole mural is scheduled to be delivered by the end of the month.  Crated for travel, the upper panel weighed 14,000 pounds, the lower panel 6,000 pounds (per the crane operator). The mural will be in storage for an unknown period awaiting the long-delayed construction of a new home on the west campus of City College.


Among the visitors, each came with their own understandings and viewpoints, their own intellectual bandwidths. One of the lessons learned from the mural’s stay at SFMOMA is that every history comes with an agenda, normally advantageous to the storyteller. Two visiting young Russian couples had been taught that the USSR entered the war in June 1941. They hadn’t learned that Stalin had been allied up to that point with Hitler through the 1939 Non-Aggression Pact.  Similarly, many people here don’t know about the Nazi influence in this country, the milieu in which Diego was painting, or of the US incursion into Japan in the 1850’s, the seeds of which resulted in the war in the Pacific.
Other Rivera murals


I have been in regular contact with the librarians/archivists of the San Francisco Art Institute, whose historical papers had been moved in proximity to SFMOMA. Finally, word on the future of SFAI’s campus has arrived.


“Those questions were largely answered Thursday when a newly formed nonprofit, composed of prominent local arts       leaders and backed by philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, purchased the 93,000-square-foot campus through a limited liability company, BMAI LLC, for roughly $30 million, or $322 per square foot. The property was previously valued at $40 million, sans the Rivera mural.” (SF ChronicleHere’s an SFGATE article. The great thing is that the mural had been conserved just before SFAI closed. Once the infrastructure renewal has happened at the site, the mural will be ready to be seen. Here’s a NYT article.


Here is a 2016 documentary about Diego Rivera’s Detroit murals by Julio Ramos, emeritus professor at UCB. The Detroit Institue of Arts was just named the best museum in the country by USA Today.


Here is a link to school curriculum around Diego Rivera (an alert, not an endorsement). Our work got a plug as “this amazing website, also offered is a scavenger hunt worksheet for out mural.


Frida News


This is a big month for Frida.  Diego y Yo (1949) just sold for $34.9M. Amazon’s Frida, which premiered at Sundance, opened this month.  Some have commented on Frida’s art being depicted with animations. It’s almost like a life drawing class of Frida. Each documentary takes a different angle and sadly San Francisco gets short shrift in this one. Given that there are a few unique stories that might have fit nicely into the work, it was a deficiency for me.  Diego left all of his and Frida’s artistic intellectual property rights to Mexico. The documentary credits are extensive, including, surprisingly, me. The Frida Kahlo Foundation claims all the other rights to Frida and is taking on Amazon products about Frida. (There has been no definitive word about whether the BBC2 will do a Becoming Frida, Season 2.)


Other Notables


The milieu that Diego and Frida inhabited is start-studded. One of Diego’s great friends in Paris was the Italian Modigliani. Tragically, Diego would be in Italy studying artists like Giotto and how to paint frescoes, when Amedeo died.


Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin is referenced in lower panel 2 with the cannon turrets, bayonets, and mother with dead child. Eisenstein’s forays into Hollywood let him meet Chaplin and Disney.

Sargent Johnson executed reliefs of athletes for Architect Timothy Pflueger, both at Washington High School and on the old gymnasiums at City College. Currently there is an exhibition of him at the Huntington. At City College, when the old gymnasiums were demolished, the Sargent Johnson bas-reliefs were cut out and stored on campus, hopefully, awaiting the opportunity to be repurposed.



Harry Parker III has passed away. For the opening of the new DeYoung Museum in 2004, Harry traveled to Veracruz, Mexico to borrow an Olmec head for the inaugural season. While there he was offered an authorized Olmec head reproduction for San Francisco. He directed Mexico’s gift to CCSF, where it sits in the Frida Garden, adjacent to the mural. It will be relocated as CCSF’s Ocean Campus is reconfigured as the new buildings go up.


Michael Strunsky, nephew of Ira Gershwin, ran the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trust in San Francisco. At a tour of the mural, his wife Jean alerted me to some interesting items they had in their collection, housed near SFMOMA.  Michael Owen, their archivist, had studied at CCSF’s Library program.  Over the years the Trust had been very generous in sharing copies of artifacts/photos and anecdotes with me. Many became integral parts of my Gershwin play. Michael Strunsky shared with me that George Gershwin was so devastated by the poor reception for Porgy and Bess that he considered giving up music to just paint. This certainly colored his encounter with a group of Mexican artists like Rivera, Siqueiros, and Covarrubias in November 1935. Soon, some of Gershwin’s musical works, like Rhapsody in Blue will enter the public domain. The Gershwin Collection is at the Library of Congress and this year’s Gershwin Prize was awarded to Elton John and Bernie Taupin.





December 8, 2023, Feliz Cumpleaños, Diego!

“VIVA CARMELITA”: photos by Will Maynez

Dear Friends of Diego,

Took a running head start for Diego’s birthday last month with a 10-day visit to Mexico City with my buddies art conservators Anne Rosenthal and Kiernan Graves.  Covid had canceled our mural team’s 2020 trip and the air tickets were due to expire. Our thought was to see Rivera’s work and to visit project friends. The trip dates were finalized by the chance to celebrate Dia de los Muertos and an invitation.

Over lunch in San Francisco, long-time friend Adriana Williams, biographer of Miguel Covarrubiasinvited me to her 90th birthday party in Mexico City. A sumptuous fiesta was held at the stately archives of her grandfather President Plutarco Elías Calles. The next day we took an excursion on the Xochimilco canals, complete with Mariachis, beer, and food. In Mexico City, it is always about the food! In 2006 at the late Dra. Guadalupe Rivera’s Encuentro Internacional de Pintura Mural, a group of us cruised in a trajinera named after my late wife, Carmelita. Seeing her name float by this time reminded me of our last trip in 2007 when we spent Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca¡Que viva Carmelita por siempre!

The Casa Estudio Museum is currently being renovated, but some of its artifacts were on display in the adjoining building, also designed by Juan O’Gorman. These elevated living/working quarters were built with the monies Diego earned on his first trip to San Francisco.

Across the street, the manager of the San Angel Inn invited us in to see the place where George Gershwin stayed in 1935 and actress Paulette Goddard stayed in 1940.  Their chance encounter at a 1937 Beverly Hills party actor Edward G. Robinson hosted for composer Igor Stravinsky introduced Paulette into the narrative of our mural story. Because of her, Nieves Orozco would not marry Diego (but would go on to marry the richest communist in the US, Frederick Vanderbilt Field).  Diego and Frida remarried in San Francisco’s City Hall on his birthday, Dec. 8, 1940. Here is some film footage of Paulette and George in Palm Springs. The Library of Congress should at some time make publicly available the photos that Gershwin took in México, which have so enriched my research.


Our colleague, curator Karla Niño de Rivera, gave us a tour of her turf, Anahuacalli, Diego’s home for his pre-Columbian art collection. It was stunningly decorated inside for Dia de los Muertos and her hospitality was a highlight. We left a mural brochure on the ofrenda for Diego’s daughter, Lupe. Accompanied by her dog Chicharrón, Karla showed us some caches of Diego acquisitions not on public display.

Karla called ahead and facilitated our entry to Frida’s Casa Azul. After enjoying that teeming museum, we savored an hour and a half visit with the pre-eminent Rivera and Frida scholar Luis-Martin Lozano. He was the consultant on the BBC2 Becoming Frida documentary and many years ago was our Fulbright scholar at CCSF. He gave us copies of his latest Taschen Frida Kahlo book and regaled us with his analysis of the Diego-Frida relationship. He had recently consulted on Christie’s sale of Frida’s Portrait of Cristina, My Sister. Luis-Martin and my late research partner Julia Bergman were dear friends.


The Palacio de Bellas Artes has a wonderful selection of murals by Rivera, Siqueiros, Orozco, Tamayo, and others. Man, Controller of the Universe, Rivera’s recreation of the destroyed Man At The Crossroads at Rockefeller Center is worth the visit all by itself. Nearby is the Museo Mural Diego Rivera, home of Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central Park. Over the years I’ve spent several Sunday afternoons in the park, catching the latest version of the people’s weekend outing. In Chronicles of San Francisco, the French artist JR depicted me as the balloon seller in the Rivera mural.

We went to UNAM to visit friends Professor Alejandro Ramirez Reivich and his wife Professor Pili Corona. We toured campus murals, like the iconic mosaic on the main library by Juan O’Gorman. At the post-graduate Mechanical Engineering labs, we examined a sawed-off remnant from the mural panel facsimiles constructed to obtain data on what vibrations our masterpiece could withstand. The orange steel extrusion shown here was no longer available, so they fabricated it from scratch, including the cut outs and indentations. Led by Alejandro, their analysis was indispensable to the successful execution of the mural move.


Our friend UNAM professor and conservator Sandra Zetina took us to Cárcamo, Rivera’s murals and sculpture at the waterworks, which I’d never seen. The now empty sump is an encyclopedia of Rivera imagery. Outside the large relief sculpture of the water deity Tlaloc is meant to be seen from the sky by airplanes, birds, and UFO’s.

Cárcamo with (l-r) Sandra Zetina, Kiernan Graves, and Anne Rosenthal.

At the Anthropology Museum, we drew a beeline for the Mexica Sala to see the two versions of the Coatlicue featured in the mural’s central icon. On the way out we caught the Voladores, half-way down their tethered, spiral descent off the tall pole. Diego refers to them in the mural’s upper panel 2 as the smokestacks with guy wires.


Though we went to San Ildefonso, we were not able to see Rivera’s Creation this time, however we did see the Orozco and Siqueiros murals. At the nearby Mercado Abelardo Rodriguez, we saw murals by Marion and Grace Greenwood and a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi. All the while I was enthralled by my friends’ commentary on painting and conservation techniques, which made this trip special.

The Templo Mayor was the center of Tenochtitlan, the city the Mexica (Aztecs) founded after a 200-year search. Over the years its museum has become more accessible and large models recreate how it looked in antiquity. Recently the Digital Florentine Codex (getty.edu) has been published to help in understanding the ancient writings. The museum is at the Zocalo, the large city square which had giant effigies for the holiday. Though the Palacio Nacional is also on the Zocalo (in background), its Rivera murals were inaccessible during the holidays.



Here’s an article on the mural at SFMOMA by the Koret Foundation, one of the principal project funders.

The World’s 20 Best Cities for Culture Right Now (timeout.com) Mexico City is #1.

Moran’s to sell the estates of Fred W. Davis and Dr. Amy Conger! (prnewswire.com)


If I have learned anything from all the mural research, it is that there is no getting around the vagaries of history. Unfortunately, our story has not had a happy conclusion. SFMOMA and CCSF have filed a suit and cross complaint about who is responsible for paying for the mural’s return to City College.

Whatever the resolution to the suits, Pan American Unity is going into storage after January 2024, probably for 4 years.

The City Club has put their once monthly mural tours on hold.

The SFAI mural is closed, but there is still hope philanthropists can save it as an art center. The Archives have been relocated.

The Stern frescofully conserved, has returned to Berkeley. They are looking to build a better venue, so it will go into storage for 3 years.

After January 2024 all the San Francisco Rivera murals will be publicly inaccessible. Cannot seem to wrap my mind or my heart around that.



September 2023

Ernest O. Lawrence, Diego, and Emmy Lou Packard at UCB’s Rad Lab.

Dear Friends of Diego,

The few “degrees of separation” paradox that characterizes the Diego Rivera in San Francisco story has struck again. Just saw the film Oppenheimer and was reminded of a Rivera connection. The above picture shows Diego and his assistant Emmy Lou Packard visiting Ernest O. Lawrence at the Rad Lab (Radiation Lab) at UC Berkeley on Aug. 28, 1940, a couple of years before J. Robert Oppenheimer appeared and the issue of the bomb arose. Diego might have been the first communist (who wasn’t a a scientist) to visit there. The book they are perusing is unknown. Rivera was very inquisitive and one of the main dualities he incorporated in the Pan American Unity mural is the reconciliation of Art and Science. The very first characters that the Mexican artist wanted in the mural were Samuel F.B. Morse and Robert Fulton. A Pflueger note while on his April 1940 Mexico City visit was to follow up with research on the two inventors for Rivera’s use. Morse had obliterated time with his invention of the telegraph and Morse code. Now messaging was “instantaneous.” (It is a revelation to some younger mural visitors that messaging hasn’t always been “instantaneous.”) Fulton obliterated space with his working steamboat and now travel was not dictated by the wind. Ever the engineer Rivera was enthused that these two great inventors were also artists.

Oppenheimer’s relationship with communism mirrors Rivera’s; neither was able to toe the line. Rivera had been expelled from the PCM, the Mexican communist party in 1929. The Mexican artist wanted an indigenous party, not one controlled by Stalin from Moscow. American Prometheus author Kai Bird in a New Yorker podcast, said Oppenheimer “was not the kind of man to submit himself to party discipline.” However, though it seems that the scientist did join the party, he denied it during security clearance hearings. Diego went so far as to script an article for the Russian Hill Runt, “I Am Not A Communist.” Though, philosophically, both were communists, they needed to unload that baggage, which hindered their agendas. In 1940 Diego had finally gotten his foot back in the door after the exile from the US over the Rockefeller incident, ostensibly for his inclusion of a portrait of Lenin in the mural. Mental reservations were made for the “greater good” as these titans perceived them. (A Russian Hill Runt newsletter drawing confirms that Frida went to the public opening of the mural in early December, though she had told Dr. Eloesser she was not interested in attending the private opening on November 29, when “all those dames” would be there.)

Ambiguity infuses these stories with ironies. Rivera depicted Stalin as one of the bad guys. Yet by June 1941, just seven months after the mural was finished, he was an ally, “Uncle Joe”, after Hitler invaded the USSR with Operation Barbarossa. By the end of the war both Diego and Frida were Stalinists. Oppenheimer led the construction of the bomb, but later campaigned against its use. But it was he who had opened Pandora’s Box.

The latest news on the San Francisco Art Institute is that it is for sale, including the mural. However, “A group of nine arts and business leaders, including philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, is pursuing the purchase of the bankrupt San Francisco Art Institute’s vacant Russian Hill campus.” Librarian/Archivist Jeff Gunderson writes that “We are thrilled to be up-and-running at the SFAI Legacy Foundation +Archive—welcoming researchers with great topics—so far from the University of Exeter in England (tech & art/eco-art from the ‘60s & ‘70s), Stanford (Bernice Bing, Win Ng, Charles Wong), CSU-Chico (AE Women Artists ‘40s-‘60s), a NYC scholar researching Bill Berkson!, and San Francisco historian, Lee Bruno investigating the artistic fallout from the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition!”  There’s a 1917 listing for Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco living at 628 Montgomery, the “Monkey Block”.

A worst-case scenario is that all three of Diego Rivera’s San Francisco murals will be publicly inaccessible after the March 2024 storage of the Pan American Unity mural (SF Mercury News front page article-for subscribers only, unfortunately.) The City Club is private, as it has always been, but all three Rivera murals form an artistic legacy for San Francisco, unique outside of México. (The smaller Still Life with Blossoming Almond Trees has been conserved at SFMOMA, but its re-display at UC Berkeley will be delayed as a new more accessible venue is prepared.) The prolonged local storage of  another of the GGIE’s artifacts, the large Covarrubias maps, is a sobering case study. (Lithos of the painted maps.)

There is a civic, moral, and ethical responsibility that goes with owning world-class masterpieces, which can last centuries. The enduring care of the Pan American Unity fresco mural requires yet unrealized institutional protocols. A non-binding MOU the college signed with the Mexican Consulate in 2011 speaks to the need for future cooperation, but you cannot care for the mural with platitudes only. Someone will always have to be el Custodio of the mural.

Facilitated by SFMOMA’s intervention, the mural is being passed to the future in great shape as 300,000 museum viewers can attest. The mural has been cleaned & conserved and “panel mounts” have been bolted to the back of the mural to strengthen it and facilitate handling & mounting. Cultural Heritage Imaging recorded a mural benchmark; a 3D photogrammetry shoot, whose massive digital files are preserved in perpetuity at Stanford University. A new Diego Rivera Theatre at CCSF will eventually showcase the masterpiece.

Frida’s exposure with San Francisco Opera’s work, El Ultimo sueño de Frida y Diego this past June, will continue next year with a San Francisco Ballet work on the Mexican artist in April 2024. This is choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings, first performed by English National Ballet and danced by Tamara Rojo, who is now the artistic director of San Francisco Ballet. In 2018 I had the honor to show the mural to Ms. Lopez Ochoa when we were connected by our friend Celia Fushille, outgoing Artistic Director of the Smuin Ballet.

ALERT: The long awaited BBC2 three-part documentary Becoming Frida Kahlo will be aired on PBS beginning September 19 at 9/8C.


Retired art mover Scott Atthowe came by to visit the mural. Nobody had thought about the mural move more than Scott and it became his grand exit. His company is now in the sure hands of his former employees, now owners. Scott had already been thinking of the mural move for a decade when I met him in 2004, when his company installed the replica 14 ton Olmec head (a gift from the Mexican state of Veracruz) in the Frida Garden adjacent to the mural at CCSF. In 2011 we engaged Scott, conservator Anne Rosenthal, and the late engineer Jim Guthrie to evaluate the viability of a mural move. Some people say we did it because the theatre building was structurally unsound. This was not the case. The evaluation reflected the reality that the mural could long outlive the building and would have to be moved some day. SFMOMA’s offer to borrow the mural and execute the delicate move was the best thing that has happened to the mural. The siting of the mural at SFMOMA answered many design questions and gave the mural the international exposure it deserved.

Mural visitor Mike Bernhardt recently sent me a link to a short refugee story, The Tides of War. Sometimes, we can collect facts about WWII, but have a poor sense of the impact on ordinary people.

José Moya del Pino was an artist in the Bay area. Originally from Spain, he brought a collection of Velasquez reproductions he had painted at the request of King Alfonso XIII to the Bay area. He ended up staying. I only knew of him because of a photo of the Family Club. Recently his family came to visit the mural, daughter Tina and granddaughters Paola and Anna.


Here is Rivera in 1940 with some  members of The Family Club, a split off from the Bohemian Club. These are mainly artists Rivera met on his first 1930 visit. Left to Right, Standing Lucien Laubdt (Beach Chalet), Antonio Sotomayor (Grace Cathedral), José Moya del Pino (Coit Tower), Otis Oldfield (Coit Tower), William Gerstle (SF Art Institute), artist Phil Little, architect Timothy Pflueger, seated are Diego Rivera and Charles Black (head of PG&E and Shirley Temple’s father-in-law).

José was good buddies with Otis Oldfield, who is the figure sketching in the central image below from Coit Tower. The “Hooded Nuns,” anthropomorphic industrial chimneys, from the Simmons Mattress Factory on Bay Street that Diego included in all his San Francisco murals, are depicted in Moya del Pino’s work at Coit Tower. He used to come and visit Rivera on the scaffolding when he was painting his first work Allegory of California at the Pacific Stock Exchange Lunch Club and they could chat in Spanish. Frida’s use of the image was not affectionate.

Canadian Consul General Rana Sarkar has come by a couple of times. He will help host APEC CEO’s conference being held at Moscone in November. We’re hoping to get the original Covarrubias maps from the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition displayed for this gathering of countries from the Pacific rim.

As the Moscone Centers conferences have ramped up, we’ve had architects, psychiatrists, game developers, and cyber security personnel meeting. Many attendees have come by to visit the mural and the foot traffic has been brisk. The international visitors have included Lithuanians, French, New Zealanders, Australians, Spaniards, British, and people from all over the Americas. All have left with smiles on their faces.

Had a nice visit in Carmel with some avid mural fans, who wanted to continue our conversation.

Happy Birthday this month to Don Cairns, the little boy in the lower center of the mural. He and his wife Kathé have been supporters of the mural for decades and first shared the precious work of his mother Emmy Lou Packard.


Mexican Independence Day commemorates September 16, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (left) gave the “cry of independence” from Spain.  He and José María Morelos y Pavon (right) are featured in the mural. Recently, the US has returned stolen pre-Hispanic artefacts.