History Painting: Federal Mural Project I

The Presidio of 1790: Home of the Yelamu
This mural is my first of three Federal mural project for the U.S. National Parks, and is a part of a larger, permanent exhibit opening in late 2011. This painting measures 12′ x 21′ and is painted in acrylics on fabric mounted on panels. For the imagery, I consulted with numerous scholars, archeologists, biologists, Native American historians, and exhibit curators to make sure every detail was accurate, including flora and fauna. Over 15 species of birds are represented, and for the representation of the ‘El Presidio’, the old Spanish fort, I used the most accurate representation thus conceived by historians.
I used digital imaging to create a maquette that could be revised upon meeting with experts. I went through eight revisions until the final design was approved.
This mural depicts the Presidio area of San Francisco, on its northern tip at the earliest European colonization. The view is roughly from the Crissy Field area. The Native Miwok word for this area was “Yelamu”. Fog rolls over the hills, and the old Army fort, El Presidio, is seen in the right in the distance. A little further nearer the shore on the left, we see a Native American village, the Coast Miwok tribe of the Ohlone people. They make their huts out of tule reeds, porous reeds that are dried and used also to make canoes to navigate the Bay. Two such canoes are seen pulled up to shore, a wide multi-passenger canoe, and a thinner faster one. Flocks of great Brown Pelicans come soaring down as streams of geese fly in the distant clouds, migrating across the sky. Cormorants dry their wings, egrets fish in the tidal lagoon, and gulls race by. In 1790, the Bay was teeming with wildlife. The early sailors describe the sky as being ‘blackened’ by the dark clouds of birds. It was truly a wild wonderland.
This permanent exhibit will also feature a real Tule reed canoe, fabricated by a native consultant, and it will sit on a ‘beach’ area directly in front of the mural. It will be as if the man just pulled up his canoe and walked back to his village in the painting. The large gray area on the extreme right will meet a rock wall/cliff made of concrete and stone (which I am also painting and adorning with barnacles, moss, etc). This wall will have a Spanish cannon atop it and the exhibit will chronicle the first encounters between the Native Americans and the Spanish
San Francisco Maritime
National Historical Park-Visitor Center
499 Jefferson St.
A Walk Around the Waterfront-a History of the San Francisco Bay Waterfront
Opens to the Public: February 2012
click on image to view