Julia Bergman and William Maynez
DescriptionJulia Bergman, 64, talks with her research partner Will Maynez, 63, about their work and research in the Diego Rivera Mural Project.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Julia Bergman
- William Maynez
Recording LocationSan Francisco StoryBooth
Venue / Recording Kit
- 666 symbols
- anecdotes (humorous but true stories)
- Art and Action
- art on the continent
- artist assistants
- bad guys
- Bay Bridge
- Bernard Zakheim
- Center for Pan-American Unity
- changing lives
- City College of San Francisco
- cold remedies
- deYoung Museum
- Diego Rivera
- Diego Rivera Mural Project
- favorite part of murals
- Francesca Pique
- Frida Kahlo
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Helen Crlenkovich
- Herman Volz
- historical events/people
- Influential People
- joy of working together
- Lupe Rivera
- Masha Zakheim
- Milton Fluger
- Mona Hoffman
- mural technicians
- North American countries
- original sources
- personal experiences
- preserving history
- primary materials
- Raleigh brand of cigarettes
- real people
- research trips
- Rick Rodrigues
- Roger Baird
- Rosenberg Library
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Sistine Chapen
- social beliefs and practices
- The emerging woman in the 1940s
- The History Detectives
- Thelma Johnson Street
- Timothy Fluger
- Treasure Island
- woman’s status
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00:06 My name is Will - 63 years old and today is March 11th, 2010. We're located in San Francisco and my partner and I are Partners in everything Rivera.
00:21 My name is Julia Bergman. I'm 64 years old today is March 11th, 2010 where in San Francisco and will and I are bonded at the hip anything that has to do with Rosetta has to include both of us.
00:35 So where would the jig Rivera mural project at City College of San Francisco, one of the largest a continuous pieces of Rivera ever did and before we do anything we have to acknowledge our dear friend washes. Time. Why call John the Baptist? She was a voice in The Wilderness at city college and in through the seventies and eighties. She kept the mural alive when nobody else really much cared much about it and you really been at the college since 1940 but was not installed and made available to the public until 1961. But I think almost from that time must I was the only person as an instructor in the humanities Department who tried to integrate this incredible work of art with her students in with her curriculum mean. She really was the only one I think for 30 years right angle. She was a daughter Bernards. I'm one of the Premier Coit Tower murals and she's got a book out about the Coit Tower mural. She's really been our our Mentor as a historian as a scholar.
01:35 Instructor she's really set the foundation for us in terms of our understanding of what the mural is what it tells people what it talks about Rebecca's role in the whole world of Art. And in the in this particular era and as really launched us and I would say launch the Diego Rivera mural project involved in in 1996. When a friend of mine who ran a dining room at the college told me while we have a mural up. It's really ugly and you have to take it down and after I taken it down with her students that she asks what nobody going to put up on the wall, cuz I'm trying to the painter and I was trying to think all good God. What am I going to put up there? And the only thing left on the wall was a j gravetter poster the original poster and I thought well, I'll just find the the photographs and I'll just make a color reproduction and that'll take care of that. Well started a long process.
02:35 Months only will my connection with the mural of serious connection really started in 1989 in February of 89 the college received notice that we were finally going to receive funding from the state of California for a real Library. What I knew about the Diego Rivera murals colleges that the original intent of the college's architect Timothy Luger and the artist Diego Rivera is that that mural was supposed to go into the college library. It never happened for a number of reasons in 1989. I received a handwritten note from one of our colleagues but basically said Julia, why don't we finally honor the original intent of flu Grand Rosetta and relocate the mural into its proper location into the new City College library building. Let's just designed the building around this great work of art and all these bells went off in my head and I thought oh my God, that's incredible. And at that time I made many visits to the murals it really looking.
03:35 Think about how we might do this and I also had a partner who was working with me on the building project and he got excited about it. Then we presented this to our Architects for the project. They got excited and in fact, the City College library that exist today the Rosenberg Library was designed around the Diego Rivera mural. However, the mural is not on the wall in the atrium and that's another story but at that time and 89 I thought okay. I want to find out everything and anything I can about the mural the whole history of at the stories that are embedded there. I'm a librarian. I'll just go and buy all the books about our mural put them in the collection and that will bring some attention again to the mural. What did I find? Nobody had written anything about our mural? It was really shocking to me and that start with me on the kind of project of my life is a library and if you will to build the Ravenna collection and we have an astonishing collection of materials at the college about Rivera.
04:35 About the mural about other works by Regatta and will and I have worked together over the years to build that.
04:49 What does the mural was really interesting and it was done at a program called Art and action out of Treasure Island part of the 1940 season of the Golden Gate International Exposition and it's big and what we better what was proposing is a union of the countries on the North American continent including Canada the US and Mexico and it was a very propitious time for this because World War II was cranking up and it was a lot of questions as to where the countries of Latin America would go. So it's a big 22 ft High by 74 ft long and basically one side mirrors the other side thematically and and as a balance is all about dualities the mural on the left really represent the culture in the history of the South the mural on the right represents Rivera's view of the history and culture of the north. And as you go back and forth looking back and forth of these 10
05:49 You end up in the Middle where there's a fusion basically of the culture of the North and the South but Ravenna was a very
05:59 Brilliance guy interested in many many many things beyond the art and culture of the North and the South he loved Hollywood. There's a whole section in the mirror. All that is includes Charlie Chaplin Paulette Goddard and Reggie Robinson Francis letter Charlie Chaplin's first speaking film The Great Dictator and that's also embedded with the politics of the war in Europe that was raging at the time and read that is passionate cry to get the United States involved in the war. So there's a lot of that there a lot of stories embedded in the mirror and
06:35 Any teacher I think in any course could find an aspect of the mural that would relate to their curriculum even math right didn't we have this Math teachers come Mathematica concert with a program on mathematics and I brought in the mathematics that's encoded in the mural Rivera had there so many different layers is in the mural. So in the late 1990s, we started kind of formalizing some of the things and in among the people that helped our Rick Rodriguez who helped put together or multimedia presentation and our website and Rodger Baird who was the art instructor as well who helped resuscitate some of the art we had from the Spartan action at the art auction Pavilion. There was Rivera on one wall in the opposite wall was a guy named Herman bowls his me rolls are now on the north and south porticos of the science building.
07:35 Has had to be had to do with the fact that Timothy Pflueger the premier architect in San Francisco that I'm literally the building right over here the Pacific telephone Telegraph building 450 Sutter the Paramount Theater Castro theater the look and feel of the Bay Bridge. He was building City College at the time with the idea that a lot of the art from art and action would end up at city college. We're very rich in that way and I've been fortunate to have many of our colleagues integrate. Only the Rivera mural into their curriculum, but the other works of art on the campus as well have been integrated into many courses whether it's a simple English as a second language course where the students have to just write an essay about a work of art or if in fact a student taking a full semester course on Diego Rivera gets into original research and then we have the whole spectrum of of intellectual and academic activity around the Rivera mural and the other works of art it spring.
08:35 Excited to pivotal things that happened right here at the end of the 1990s. I'll speak to the first which is Francesca. PK came out from the Getty conservation Institute should literally come from from the Vatican. She told me she did a one-day assessment of army Rowland said Rivera's a blue technician the murals in really good shape a little bit dirty, and then she basically change my life. She said that and think about conserving this mural for the next 200 years and it was an epiphany and now it just the idea that we're just links in the chain and at this mural going to go on long after us and Julie and I are just wired to we're trying to save the stories were trying to gather as much information. We may not even understand all the stuff. We're Gathering but it's kind of an Act of Faith and and boy, did they ever get the right two people do this pretty passionate about it. I think I just think of the Sistine Chapel mural is true Fresco it will last way beyond our
09:35 5 * so we take the role of stewardship very seriously.
09:39 Yeah, another turning point for us. I would say in terms of our development in and the development of the Diego Rivera mural project occurred shortly after the Getty conservator. Was he ran in the year? 2002 College brought a Fulbright scholar to City College of San Francisco name is Luis Martin Lozano at that time. He was a curator and an author certainly a Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo scholar and Louis XIV spend a semester with us and provided lectures to classes and also to the people in the community will and I spent a lot of time with him and he he got us focused on on true academic research got us to really understand that we couldn't be putting our thoughts about what we thought we that it was doing out there, but we had to understand exactly what the antecedents were for images and and not say well we think he wanted to do
10:39 Are we think he did it because of that unless we met at oldest so and so he really raise the bar for us as as very unschooled Scholars to pay attention to what we were saying how we were saying it what we were writing how we were writing it how we were presenting this phenomenal work of art to our students into our community and journalists and curators and and people from all over the world. We're interested in RI that I have now come to us and I think we are to a degree respected in this particular project because we have been very careful to document what we do keep track of what we found and tried as best we can to provide access to it for the rest of the world. We don't do it for our own happiness. Although sometimes it's kind of his happy stuff that we're getting into there's a happy aspect to it in in 1999. We took our first research trip to Mexico
11:39 And a typical example of what we were researching is he is in the mural. There's a table some people seated at the table. And on the table is a matchbook cover that says 666 on it. Oh my God. Will what is this mean? 666 well that launched a search and one day Julia was out and I think our first our first kind of step in the process of trying to understand 666 is that you found in this was a boy. There is a publication published in Mexico. We were in a University Library archive will was going through this periodical because he always speak Spanish very well, and he was just going through Page by Page and all of a sudden he saw an ad.
12:35 On one of the pages that said 666 and it was a cold remedy. Right and we said is that what Rosetta was getting at? I mean classically 666 refers to the beast in the Bible. Is that how everybody was getting out? I mean we were so shocked to go from one extreme some Biblical reference to a cold remedy, but that got us kind of fired up them.
13:01 We split up it was the last day wasn't it and talk about how you had lunch with this doctor and then I went to the farm we went we went to a I went to a restaurant that we could try to get into the night before and it look like it was closes up on on the kind of little mezzanine Courtyard and I was leaving an eye doctor called me slow know if it's open come on and I had lunch with his doctor and he told me that the significance of 666 was how many iterations did it taken to get the right formula to cure syphilis syphilis, right? That was shocked. I mean, I didn't know that piece yet cuz we'll was at was having lunch with this position. I was wandering the streets of Mexico City and I saw found a pharmacy and am I very fractured High School Spanish. I asked one of the employees in the pharmacy if there was still a cold medication called 666 and sure enough the woman behind the counter responded and said, yes, in fact there was
14:00 She went and I was having trouble with the numbers. And at first I thought she was telling me that it cost. Was it 98 pesos Earth or 980 or somebody very very expensive and I realized I wasn't understanding correctly what she was saying. In fact, it was like a dollar fifty or something for a box. So I purchased this box of tablets. It's got boldly 666 on it. Then there's another image in the mural on the same table. There's the book of matches with 666 and there's also a package of cigarettes cigarettes and the last day this was prior to the last day that very next morning. Julie and I are in the airport lounge waiting for a flight and and you have to understand that Julie does not right at this hour.
14:44 And so we're having a coffee and I go why wouldn't it be great to you know how to do in Laguna Beach with a make a tableau of a three-dimensional image of a picture. I said, we could do the little table there. But you know, we have to get Raleigh Cigarettes and what in the heck we going to get Raleigh Cigarettes and I looked over her shoulder and in the display case where the Raleigh cigarette in the same same package that Rebecca had painted 1940. So we left Mexico City with not the matchbook was 666 but at least we have artifacts and that got us really thinking about broadening our our our whole scope in terms of building the Rivera collection to include realia. It's interesting and her students is very interesting. So we've got six six six and we still don't know exactly what we did. It was getting out. It could have been this it could have been that but we're not saying that we know definitely because we don't I have to add that we really started with a leg up along the way here any Loop
15:44 Record who was Diego Rivera's primary assistant on this mural went back after the mural was finished and live with Diego and Frida for 10 months. She kept notes on everything that the lyrics to the Corridos ain't like to know what they were saying. She wrote letters home to her parents. She wrote letters home and she acted as a secretary for Diego keeping copies of everything.
16:06 Her son, Donald Karen's who is the little boy in the front of the mural has given us access to everything at play Emmylou spent the last twenty-five years of her life researching The Life and work of Diego Rivera in San Francisco. There are four murals by Rosetta here in the Bay Area, which is extraordinary. If you think of the number of murals that he completed which I think total if you count every little fresh so panel is about 40, but eight major ones San Francisco is rich in the history of Diego Rivera. So Emmylou spent more than two decades collecting material that she wanted to put together in a book about Diego Rivera in San Francisco. She could do the research, but she couldn't write our previously mentioned Mentor much as a kind can write and much a new Emmylou and wanted to help her with this book and Emmylou just held all of this material close to her bosom and wouldn't let anybody help her with it. She needed library and she needed a secretary. She needed to Ghost Rider and she didn't have any of those things.
17:06 Will and I knew about this project. I actually knew Emmylou before she passed away and but we didn't know where any of the material was. She wouldn't tell anybody. I found it a lot of Emmylou Packard's work. Who is she was also an artist in her own right social activist very very active all of her life. She had donated all of her personal archive to The Archives of American Art in Washington DC so very early, I think maybe it was 2001 or something. I went to DC during spring break and locked myself. It was actually in a storage room is about the size of this booth actually and went through 13 boxes of Emmy Lou's primary source material. None of it have been organized by The Archives of American art yet and I photocopied everything I thought could be in any way relevant to what we were interested in but the book material was not there. They were fragments there was like a partial table of contents and Snippets of this and that and it just
18:06 Raise my level of of kind of passion about finding this material and it was maybe a year or two years. I think was 2 years later. I was reading an article about Emmylou and at the end of the article it said and Emmy Lou Packard research material is with her son Donald Karen's in Philadelphia. So I contacted her son and he would not ship the materials to San Francisco, but he said, you're welcome to come out here and you can look at anything you want. So I went during another spring break and I fortunately had one of my students with me Lisa Velar. They remembered her husband and they traveled with me from New York to Philadelphia. I rented a photocopy machine. I worked up in the attic where Don had all of his mother's material and with Lisa and her husband Tom helped and I photocopied at first trip. I don't know maybe five or six hundred pages of material.
18:59 Then you and I went again. When did we go when we went when do we go to Philadelphia? And we met Rivera's daughter we went we went for Lupillo Rivera's lecture on the the Latin American Graphics at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I knew that I had to return to the Karen's because by then I knew that I had missed other important things. So again, I rented a copy machine and we just put it on their kitchen counter and then Don also set up a copy stand with a copy camera and took photographs of all of Emmy Lou's photographs, which were also so important to us as a panda part of the story. So why didn't you go with me? I don't remember any more right? I was in Florida. I just blew up for for 3 days that that's right. There was Paul the villain in, Florida.
19:59 I photocopied. What I hoped was the rest of Emmy Lou's research. So we owe her a huge debt of gratitude and I have I can't promise to to her son that someday we will get her work published. But if we ever can get anything published it will certainly be attributed to her or dedicated to her or however, we handed it handle all of this because we have extraordinary primary sources that don't exist anywhere else and nobody has seen this material Bell accept our students and there's some stories in their relating to themes in our mural that Emmylou figure it out on her own and we're keeping we're holding that close to our bosom. We're not going to let people see that yet cuz we want her book to happen. I think one of the aspects of the Ravenna collection that is so very important are all of these letters what Emmylou did during those two plus decade?
20:59 Is she would write a letter to a scholar or a historian or a writer in Mexico? She used carbon paper to keep a copy of her original letter, then when she received a response she could match her original letter with that response. And that's the kind of material that we have in the collection. It's simply amazing. I don't lose sleep as a librarian ever what historians in the future are going to be doing if they have original research on in their minds, but I worry a little bit because who writes a letter anymore let alone who use carbon paper. I mean people do email and then do they print it and keep it or do they just hit the delete key. I kind of worry about future historians and Scholars because they are not going to have the kind of primary material that we have including our photographs. We have hundreds of photographs of the mural in progress, which is very rich and very interesting.
21:59 The architect Timothy Pflueger also, very fastidious about keeping copies of everything. So when we were in Mexico, we had a copy of the receipt for the hotel we stayed and where he signed the contract with Diego Rivera and what store are horror we went in there and it's not a fast food place and in the lobby, they had a mural by Miguel covarrubias. It was splattered with grease Timothy Timothy Pflueger who was the premier architect and who was instrumental in both of Rivera's visits here to San Francisco his 1930 visit and is 19:40 visit bracket all the time that we better spent in the United States. So San Francisco is really important and other than Mexico City, this is Jake ravello and at as Lupillo Rivera's daughter, it also often tells us a reference material. He was fastidious his son.
22:59 Is also an architect his son is John Flueger. John sun is also an architect. Tom Melton son is John and then John son is Tom right there all Architects. Anyway, John Flueger lives up in Glen Ellyn and several years ago. I tracked him down and he invited me up to his place and on his property. He has a quonset hut and in this Quonset hut one can find the fluger archive except it's an old falling apart and rotten cardboard boxes rolls of architectural drawings all rolled up on the floor everything covered with you don't even want to know bat guano or something. I mean is the library and I just was aghast but I have to give John credit. He did know where his uncle Timothy's major file on Rosetta 1940 was and he basically brought it out.
23:59 One visit that I was there and there in front of me where again handwritten letters Diego Rivera's handwritten letter to Pfluger accepting the offer to come to San Francisco.
24:11 Practically a day-by-day chronology of all of the events of 1940. I mean that made my heart stopped. So John did allow me to borrow that file. I photocopied it. I have spread it around will of course in my size. Came in a couple of other people who've been working with us so that we wait we shared that information. But again, it is incredibly invaluable to us to have that level of detail at that depth of detail about this project about this mural about the artist about all of the things that went on at the time. So, yes, we owe a debt of gratitude also to John Flueger for being willing to share that with all but I do worry about a quonset hut by acquiring more stuff than we've had in our mirror, there's a two figures of a diver Helen Court linkiewicz.
24:59 And we become pretty close with her daughter Barry Miller. In fact, she was just here the other day. I took a picture of her her daughter and her grandchildren in front up on the mezzanine so that the picture of the grandmother is in the background. So it's nice having that you're the other experience we've had recently we appeared on PBS was the the history detectives in the story about Thelma Johnson streat and Afro-American artists who was one of the few people that we can document actually put a paint brush to our mural. That was a very interesting experience for history detective some event. That was that was last year. Right? I'm like this that was scripted and we were so nervous. We could hardly contain ourselves or do with the director wanted us to do this is much more fun to be able to just speak freely like this. Oh my God, we said the end of that. We keep our day jobs who wants to be a movie star, but it was an interesting experience and we were able to
26:01 Document for Thelma Johnson streat family the fact that yes This Woman's was her down was nice. I think we would ask the history detectives to look into this then it's back this young African American artist female artist in 1940 was so respected by Diego Rivera that he had allowed her to participate and paint. It was a very very significant piece of information because right now I think there's four people in the mural. We are in contact with two to come we can document
26:40 Very well that there in the mural and tour or apocryphal so Donald Karen's who's the little boy in the front. We know that's him. That's any loose end and a little girl in the mural. I was able to track down a couple years ago. And she was the daughter of Moana Hoffman who's the woman seat at the table we were talking about and Moana was one will ever regret his assistance. And also what are those robbers past lover and the daughter gave us Snippets of her mother's diary. So we got insights from people on the scene about what was transpiring. So that's pretty pretty good to other people that we know maybe in the mural of Sal de guarda the guy who's in white Trunks and who is part of the Billy Rose's aquacade.
27:28 And he's trying to recreate a Pacifica statue. It was out of the fair and a couple of years back. I interviewed Nieves Orozco. Who's what everybody's assistance and back was going to be the next mrs. Ravenna because you was divorced complete at the time and I think she is the model for the tehuantepec sculptors and I interviewed her seated right in front of that and it was wonderful getting all these little Snippets. She ended up marrying Frederick Vanderbilt field the richest Communists in the United States that Mona's daughter basically donated to the Ravenna collection included a 5 page monograph that Mona Road shortly after the fair describing the events leading up to Rebecca's actual appearance in San Francisco and then describing the very early people who were in
28:28 Solved in the project and she did some that means fascinating storytelling fascinating one of the things though that completely shifted our way of looking at the mural was that at the end of her monograph Moana wrote that when Diego Rivera arrived in San Francisco and was met at the airport by Timothy Pflueger and Albert Bender, right? They both met him at the airport that for some reason Timothy Pflueger told Rivera that the mural was going to go into a college for women now, it was clear that City College of San Francisco was the co-ed institution, but Mona wrote this and she then wrote that this idea that the mural was going to go into a college for women, which could be perhaps, you know, something like Mills College then
29:17 This infused Rivera with his passion to show what what Moana described as the emerging woman in 1940 the emerging woman and as we looked at the mural then or now, we see women and prominent positions all throughout this mural Diego Rivera has taken a lot of heat over the years for being you know, I don't know how would you ladies at the womanizer that he was bad to Freda? You known all of this now step back and look at where he put women in 1914 the mural where he put well is that his ex-wife Frida Kahlo in the middle of the mural and a very important and prominent position this Moana graph that we have by Moana Hoffman completely changed the way we look at the mural the way now we talked about it and
30:07 Thank you Moana or thank you Lynn Wagner, right because that's another extraordinary Insight that we had never seen recently had she gave us a self-portrait lithograph been prevented in 1930s, and we recently had a conserved and and in the future will will display a prominent be but again it is these artifacts that were collecting kind of Desperately because we know that a lot of stuff going to be in Grandma's Attic and people won't know what it is and toss it.
30:37 All these connections we've made have been leveraged into so a typical example of what happened.
30:44 Is that the one of the young was getting ready to open Harry Parker the third who's the director really likes Mesoamerican art and specifically Olmec heads.
30:59 And so he went down to Veracruz to borrow one from the sale down to pull here in xalapa. Emily was down there. He got the offer of what we make.
31:12 Authorized reproductions hand-carved, you know anybody in San Francisco that might want one will now this 14 ton 9 foot high Canik Top Model it sits in the courtyard right outside our Diego Rivera mural and speaks to one of the themes in the mural that we bet it was saying you don't need to look to Europe for artistic ideals that cure on this content. We've been doing art for thousands of years and I start my morning out there gardening and for me is as a Chicano. It's a way to put my hands in the dirt.
31:51 Did you with my culture and to unify because one of the themes that Rivera has in his murals a Reconciliation of Art and Science? Well, I'm trained as an artist and my daytime job is for the last Thirty One years. I've been the lab manager in the physics department at city college. So it's almost like this mural has been sitting there waiting for me that to catch on that. This was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. And so for the last fourteen years, this is my life. Yeah, it's it's been a very significant slice of my life as well. It really has changed the way I look at a lot of things in life. Not just this work of art one of the things that we haven't talked about and we need to perhaps get into before this is over is that where the mural is currently housed and where it should be the mural was in storage for 21 years. The mirror was completed in 1940 on Treasure Island in 1942. It was moved from Treasure Island to
32:51 The main campus of City College in San Francisco where these 10 panels were put into a wooden shed down by our gymnasiums and there they sat in 1957 when Diego Rivera died, he was an internationally renowned artists there were articles everywhere about Rivera's death. Someone attended the board meeting of the School District Board of Trustees and asked generally to the trustees. Doesn't City College have a mural by Diego Rivera what they said who that old dirty communist. I mean 1957 height of the Cold War if we don't have any place to put it let's get rid of it will give it to the dieng or something. Well 10 Timothy Pflueger had passed in 1946, but his brother Milton do we mentioned earlier who is also an architect was then the college architect in Milton New what the original intent for this mural was and Milton attended the following meeting and said wait, wait wait, I will find a place for that mural Milton.
33:51 Basically adjusted architectural drawings for a new a small theater with a Lobby on campus curved the exterior wall of the lobby and basically crammed the mural into this space the total viewing distances 14 14, 13 14 ft. What are things that Harry Parker told us years ago. Is it the proper viewing distance for any work of art is to be able to get back as far as the piece is wide, right? So to see this mural properly one needs to get back 74 feet not possible. It's 13 ft.
34:30 So our plan is to properly house this great work of art will and I will see this happen and the plan is well. We're hoping we're building a new Performing Arts Center at which time the Little Theater will become redundant and even if they wanted to stay the Little Theater the retrofitting of all the steel required to bring it up the current seismic code with just be very hazardous to the middle. So it had to be installed. So this summer we're doing an assessment using a very notable structural engineer and notable conservator and a premier art mover in San Francisco to ascertain exactly how the mural is mounted and to figure out a strategy for D installing it and then hopefully we tear down that building.
35:23 Rotate the mural 90u00b0. So it's facing north as originally intended by Rivera and Pflueger and put it into a new center for Pan American Unity, which would also house our academic departments academic departments + The Archives + Gallery space and plus maybe bring all the pieces having to do with a pair of the WPA art to one central location. So they can all be enjoyed in context very interesting series of meetings with these academic departments in my more than 30 years of the college. I had never attended meetings like this with Department chairs and administrators in from the art Department architecture photo Cinema broadcasting graphic Communications, everybody in the room agreed that this new classroom and laboratory facility should happen that they would all share classrooms unheard-of they would share
36:23 Labs unheard of everybody was once I need a classroom dedicated to this. I need a classroom dedicated staff and Latin American studies, of course was in that everybody agreed that this facility should happen. Everybody agreed that the space should be shared. Everybody agreed that the mural should be the Center of Creative and Fine Arts at city college and be a center for Pan American Unity. We will see this happen. So where we've been working hard for our biggest fan and our biggest supporters been thawed out. What a Lupe Rivera Marin who is the sole surviving daughter Diego Rivera?
37:02 And who has been our biggest supporter. She'll be coming to town here in a couple of weeks and she's bringing somebody who might help support our project. So we're to write a check because on top of doing this assessment. We also need to conserve the mural witches to clean it.
37:19 And to fix up whatever cracks it might have and with the idea that
37:26 This thing would be there in perpetuity. You know, it's it's a long-range goal and we don't know how much of this will get to see but we're trudging along and hopefully it'll happen in our lifetime. Yes. I think the key element to certainly our experience over the years with the Rivera mural project has been the support that we've received from the institution. None of the work that we've done would have happened without the administrative support of the college and that has been extraordinary we an administrator very early on who got us going with the website and the creation of a poster and an Interactive Learning piece. A multi-media piece was Robert De printer. He's no longer the college. He's he's over at San Francisco State but he was an administrative position at a high enough level that he can help us move things along Peter Goldstein. Who's the vice Chancellor for finance?
38:23 Is a big supporter he is supported projects that we were excited about and not last at all. But probably first was our Chancellor for 10 years Doctor Phillips. Are they junior who loves that mural to still to this day? Although he's no longer at the college either if we hadn't had those levels of administrative support we would not have been able to do the kinds of things that we've been able to do whether it was, you know to go to Mexico or get some reimbursement for expenses or big or small and I think one of the things that we
39:00 Well worried about a little bit is in the future Administration. We've got to keep this alive have to keep it kind of in front of everybody's face the current Chancellor the college. Dr. Donald Griffin. He knows his project and he loves it when he was interviewed for his position as Chancellor. He provided the committee with one of the most eloquent one of the most thoughtful statements about the mural and its importance not only to the community but particularly to our students and will as I was talking about the mural as a source of self-esteem for our Latino students in is potentially a recruitment tool and there's so many ways to use this and we have to keep this alive and keep our administrators educated.
39:48 I just have a few questions before we close out. I'm wondering do you remember what it was? Like the first time you saw the mural?
39:56 It's shocking. I think that's probably for most people it's shocking because one walks into this very small space and one is overwhelmed with this Monumental work of art that fills a whole wall. And it's almost 1:00 recoils almost then of course because of the physical location of it. You can get a very close to it and see a lot of the details but it's not at all surprising to see people kind of step back and go. Oh my God. What is this? That's a pretty good though. I recently I've had a little bit of an epiphany doing some nighttime lectures in this very narrow lobby with glass of both and I pointed out that Ezra betel leaves in the last days of 1940 signed a contract to come back and triple the size of this mineral and I tell people I said you want to see how big it would have been look at the reflection.
40:56 Neither and then you could see how far it juts out that way and that's what it would have been like three times as long.
41:09 Storical artifacts B's real artifacts that are connected to the mural. What is it? Like like after you went to Emmylou Emmylou Donald David Kearns house and saw these letters. What is it? Like when you go back and see the mural or when you file?
41:26 Then you look at the mural where it is. What is it like when you
41:30 Well, it just brings the whole mural in such a perspective. We feel we're such a part of it because we have such a an academic or scholarly Foundation. Now when we look at it, I mean there are there plenty of people who I'm sure visits and Mero, I I mean I know will and I both provide kind of lectures about the mural and people get all excited about seeing Charlie Chaplin in the mural or Edward G Robinson or or something and they get excited about a piece but we can be excited about the whole thing because we have so much information about it now, but what I really like is is sometimes you see the mural and it's a it's a piece here, but real people did it and so recently in the last couple years. I always related the story Paul at godard's in the mural and the reason she's there is because she went to a party in 1937 that Edward G Robinson through for Igor Stravinsky while at the party. She's talking to George Gershwin.
42:28 Stop telling the story. Well, I ended up getting a postcard to George Gershwin it sent from Mexico. Say no Diego showed me the Palacio Nacional and I showed that to somebody else. Who said well, hi. I'm with the highway and North Richland trust right here in San Francisco. Guess what? We got a drawing that George Gershwin get a Diego Rivera and to all of us and it's real people to realign somebody was sitting a real person just like you and I do this is if not, all these kind of nebulous Factor real people and that's the real. This is what you like about us.
43:01 Describe both of you your favorite part of the mural right now. I'm sure it changes all the time maybe but today what is your favorite part of the well, I'm very partial to the scene. Ravenna has included at the top of the mural which is a view of San Francisco. And he's highlighted in the mural to Bridges the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge neither of those bridges existed when we better was in San Francisco 1930 Always Sunny comes back in 1940 and the whole day or is connected with Bridges and all of the symbolism around a bridge is so important to understanding what we've got a did with the mural. I love that type top part. I love the bridges and the figure of the diver Helen klincewicz is kind of arched over two of the panels again to connect or Bridge the whole piece. I just I love that idea of a bridge.
44:00 Well it in the panel on the right of the movie panel. There's the bad guys there. There's Hitler Stalin Mussolini and there is Rebecca's polemic. There's an arm with a hand of God had a grin and it's got a swastika on it and it's being restrained by another bigger arm. That's great in the US flag with a swastika on the tattoo of this hand is backwards. So it's one of these conjectures you go on why is the swastika backwards and a couple years ago? My wife and I were in in Mexico at the Casa Azul play this house.
44:39 And we came across the actual drawing and when I saw the date, I thought 1933 what happened is Rivera didn't know that the Nazis would only use the swastika one way and he drew it backwards inadvertently, but it means he brought the drawing with him and he gave it to his assistant sat gridded up and blowed up this big and I dutifully put it backwards and like Freud sometimes said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
45:06 And then I'm wondering for you. It's obvious you two are so passionate about this and why I mean what I think we've talked about it a lot in the morning.
45:19 Why why is it so important to be the stories of this? First of all is we said earlier? It's extraordinary that San Francisco and the bay area of is home to four major frescoes by Diego Rivera. It is extraordinary that an urban publicly-funded community college is one of the locations where revetta has has a mural. It's extraordinary to be able to answer grade a work of art into the curriculum of the largest community college in the United States. As I said earlier. We have faculty all across the spectrum. They can't eat any or all of this mural any aspect of our automotive technology program has has a replica of the mural because there's a 1940 Ford automobile engine in the mirror. I just get off on this. I love this. I think it's an amazing amazing opportunity and I feel very blessed to be able to be a part of it and still am
46:19 Well, you got the best one of the best things that happen to me. I get to meet Julia. I'd already been at city college 18 years didn't really know her and like you said we've been well that they have for 12 years that's been one of the joys.
46:31 The defiant, you know, putting two little pieces together the puzzle and go look at this how these things go together. And then again, I have to always reiterate it's for me. It's
46:42 It's my family, you know, it is paying back and I've been in this family has been in this country for two generations and I certainly had it really really well here and and took a couple Generations removed from being out in the field. And so it's it's payback time and hopefully it get them to leverage this thing into attracting.
47:05 Latino u-22 higher education the appropriate Place being City College most cost-effective place. And so I always presented is this it's not just about doing something. It's nice. It's it just about the economic well-being of the state. So there's so many aspects of this that the
47:21 Make us happy very happy.