List of Panels:

(individual panel pages coming soon)

  • panel 10 administration
  • panel 11 transportation
  • panel 12 agriculture
  • panel 13 timber
  • panel 14 education

SECTION THREE tells how, between 1850 and 1910, Mendocino County and the Ukiah Valley saw the growth of government, transportation, agriculture and logging, plus education in the extra fifth panel.

How I left SECTION THREE last winter

panel 10 administration

Built in 1873, the beautiful Mendocino County Courthouse is painted under a decorative sky representing the harmony of justice, the goal toward which our imperfect institutions strive. The visual trick of that sky is that it is also part of the hills above it.

Detail, about 1 foot square, of figures on the courthouse steps

Notice the bulletin boards for posting public notices. Also, I had painted the address but not yet finished the word “COURTHOUSE” which you letter from the center point out. Why? So you get it centered in its zone. Here, all I did yet was “TH”…

On the left, the land grant bestowing the Ukiah Valley upon a soldier, Cayetano Juarez, who had been a soldier at the Presidio in San Francisco, by the government of Mexico, in payment for services in 1845. The name “Ukiah” comes from Spanish interpretation of a Native term for “deep valley” or “southern valley” hence Rancho Yokaya, which extends from southern Ukiah up into Redwood Valley. 

See a photo of the treaty of of Guadalupe Hidalgo from which I worked.
The signatures (see photo below) are faithful to the originals.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo marked the end of the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848) and brought California into the United States. Almost immediately, European/American settlers come to California in great numbers following the 1849 Gold Rush. California entered the Union as a free (anti-slavery) state in 1850. The state constitution provides that every white male citizen of the US and of Mexico who desired to become citizens shall be granted the right to vote. It also set up a common system of schools that shall be open a minimum of three months per year.

Despite being a free state fighting against slavery in the Civil War, some of the first actions of the California state legislature were to legalize virtual enslavement of Native people and to docify their comprehensive lack of human rights. For example, as written in the blood-stained documents above, “No testimony shall be admitted in a court of law from Indians or Negroes against any White person.” The Chineses were added four years later. In addition “Any White person may arrest an Indian for loitering.” Citizenship is denied. Employers determine length of servitude. Unemployed Indians are to be jailed. Any White person may pay their fine and take them into indentured unpaid labor…

The cascade of treaties depicted are those negotiated with over 100 Native tribes by federal Indian Affairs representative Redick McKee, in an effort to put an end to the carnage and suffering. After three years there were eighteen treaties entered in good faith on both sides. Among them the treaty signed by Pomo chieftain CheBem at Camp Fernando Feliz a few miles south of Ukiah on the Russian River. These treaties however, were all rejected by the US congress, led by the California Senators. Another betrayal after the Indians had relinquished their land, now with neither home nor security.

The bright part of this dismal story is that of survival, of the people and their culture not being lost. This is the meaning of the falcon rising from a funeral fire in the “truth” panel. A quote from the Madley book says “It is a story worthy of marvel.”

panel 11 transportation

Ukiah was relatively isolated, reachable by foot, horseback or stagecoach from the rail line terminating in Petaluma. That 80-mile trip took two days by horse-drawn conveyance!

This changed in 1889, when the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad completed its line from Petaluma to Cloverdale to Ukiah.

In the lower part of the panel is a stagecoach with travelers, and above: the arrival of the first passenger car, from a photo of the actual occasion. The train’s name was the “Petaluma.”

At the bottom of the panel is a scene of the Chinese workers who were brought in for the hardest and most dangerous tunneling jobs, when the union bosses would forbid their normal crews from working. This is from a historic photo of one of the tunnels through which the Skunk Train still passes!

panel 12 agriculture

Panels 12 and 13 completed: “agriculture” and “timber”

As gold petered out, California increasingly became productive in agriculture.
The coming of the railroads linked its rich economy with the rest of the nation, and attracted a steady stream of migrants.

The beer-flavoring flower of the hops plant grew well in Ukiah’s climate and hops became the dominant crop, peaking in 1885. Mendocino County was the third largest producer of hops in the state.

The scene of two families picking hops draws on two historic photos, the Native family on the right from 1880 and the other from 1906. Men women and older kids would take to the fields for several weeks in August/September to earn extra money. A hundred-pound sack of the hops blossoms brought the worker $1.00, and he or she could usually pick 2 or 3 bags per grueling day. The women wore long dark gloves to protect themselves from the scratchy plant. Apparently, the men didn’t care.

Sheep were introduced to California in 1769 by the Franciscan friars. Maintaining flocks continued until the livestock population was nearly wiped out due to post-Gold Rush demand for meat. This led to a 550,000-sheep importation along the New Mexico trail.

Sheep ranching has been an important part of northern and central California rural life ever since. This panel shows sheep grazing in the distance and a scene of hay baling.

The barn is patterned on that of the Keiffer family, whose ranch is in the center of Hopland. Notice the “Farm Bureau Member” sign just in front of the horse. Ramona Keiffer, a daughter in the family, was the mother of the well-known local Poma family

panel 13 timber

The lumber boom in Mendocino County, at its height in the 1940s, prompted major growth in Ukiah. The mill and logging scene I am showing are from earlier, around 1900. The riverfront mill features a mill “pond” where the logs were cleaned and awaited transport by water, and a “wigwam” or “teepee” burner for disposing of redwood sawdust, very common in every location around the county.

The lower scene shows a skid road where felled redwood trees were slid down a burned out hillside into the ravine. Bull teams dragged the huge logs along a track made slick by Chinese water slingers, as you see here turning dirt into mud. Notice the remnant of orange flame at the top indicating the slash and burn method. This was painted from a photo by the eminent local photographer A.O. Carpenter, father of painter Grace Hudson. In his photo it is clear that the oxen are gaunt and I assume overworked, which I have reproduced here.

The redwood gas station still standing here in Ukiah

Painted from a 1940’s photograph including a mother and child, cars and a truck from the period. Well, I knew just the truck to paint: the 1941 International that sits right now inside the Keiffer barn.

It’s fun to bring history back to life in paint.

The mural is divided in half by the entrance to the Conference Center

The two panels flanking the Conference Center’s north entrance represent two subjects I intentionally paired as necessary components of a thriving society: education and labor.

panel 14 education

In the “education” panel, you will see the old and the new:

  • above, the library of Mendocino College
  • and below, Ukiah’s Grammar School, built in 1872, and located where the Civic Center is at 300 Seminary Drive.

Mendocino College Library is the hub for the main campus, providing access to over 36,000 library materials, 142,000 eBooks, millions of articles, computer access, study rooms, and current periodicals. Sun control systems, north-facing clerestory windows, a natural ventilation system and installation of a vegetated roof system help make this a sustainable and energy efficient building.

The gorgeous Grammar School, for grades 3 through 8, like the historic Primary and High Schools, was a point of pride for the community. Sadly it only lasted about 40 years, being sold, moved and then torn down. But its beauty can live on here.

Below these grand edifices, I painted other forms of education: high-level skills and the essential, practical knowledge taught at home or in the workplace, like cooking, repair and construction.

At the base of the panel is the foundation of education: self-discovery through the senses, seen as a toddler at one with nature. These scenes are FULL of portraits!

To illustrate education in high-level skills I painted three portraits from historic photos.

  • Annie Burke (1876 – 1962) was an accomplished weaver who also devoted herself to educating the world about Pomo basketry. She broke ground when she told her daughter Elsie not to destroy her baskets upon death, as was customary, so they could form part of an educational collection. She also purchased the work of others, meticulously noting technique and artist, to add to the collection, which she presented at institutions great and small.
  • Elsie Allen (1899-1990) took up her mother’s mantle, creating and teaching, as well as promoting education, cultural preservation, and Indian rights. Elsie faced opposition in defying tradition but she honored her mother’s wish and promised to continue the tradition.
  • She taught her daughter Genevieve Aguilar and others, including grand-niece Susan Billy, who returned home after college to apprentice in the 1980’s.

This scene contains 5 portraits!

  • First, from a 1940’s photo of George and Ella Butler who purchased land after the Depression and created a much-loved cherry farm, visited by locals for generations.
  • Standing with George outside the window where a cherry pie cools is a contemporary boy, Valentino, who is 5 years old and loves books and maps.
  • The kids learning to make pie dough are in actuality a grandfather, Dave Poma, and his grand-daughter, age 9. But I painted Dave from his High School freshman yearbook!

The toddler holds clovers in his hand, one of which has four leaves! And he is a portrait..


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