917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
[singlepic id=442 w=320 h=240 float=right]Students, families, friends and community members enjoyed the Bay Area’s warm September weather and celebrated the artistic accomplishments of Davidson students at a special Friday evening event in downtown San Rafael.
Held in front of Youth in Arts home at 917 C Street, the event included the dedication of a historically themed mural created in 2011-12 by Davidson students with Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Brooke Toczylowski. Youth in Arts Gallery was also open, featuring an exhibit on the mural, curated and installed in part by Davidson students. The event was featured as part of ArtWorks Downtown’s 2nd Fridays Art Walk.
[singlepic id=427 w=320 h=240 float=left]Visitors had a chance to see the gallery exhibit and enjoy refreshments and hands-on arts activities. Musical accompaniment and dance demonstrations were provided by Joti Singh and Bongo Sidibe of Duniya Drum & Dance Company. Joti also teaches students at Davidson, through Youth in Arts.
San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips was on hand for the dedication ceremony, along with Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams. The Davidson mural project was supported in part by the County, and also by the Fenwick Foundation, the Marin Community Foundation and the MacPhail Family, which has owned the building currently housing Youth in Arts since the 1800s.
Youth in Arts also presented the 2012 Pamela Levine Arts Education Leadership Award at the event, to Carol Cooper, founding Head of School for Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito/Marin City and a strong supporter of arts education. (For more information on the Pamela Levine Award and Ms. Cooper, please visit the Youth in Arts website).
Students from the Davidson Mural team spoke as part of the mural dedication ceremony, along with Mayor Phillips, Davidson Principal Harriet MacLean, and Mentor Artist Brooke Toczylowski. Many spoke of how impressed they were by the students’ work and by their dedication to the mural project. Brooke pointed out how the young artists had chosen to include images of themselves painting in the center of the mural. The painting explores many themes from San Rafael’s past, she said, but “they are the future–and the future is so bright.”
The Mural Team, comprised of 17 students (now 8th and 9th graders), worked throughout the Fall and Winter of 2011-12 to research, plan, design and create the mural. Hundreds of Davidson seventh graders also worked for a shorter period of time with Brooke on “mini-murals” which were also on display.
A plaque installed by Youth in Arts at the site provides passers-by at 917 C Street with a sketch of the mural, explaining the history behind each of the features included.
Click here for more event photos
Matthew Jackett is a junior at Marin Academy, interested in history and writing. As a 2012 summer intern for the Marin History Museum, Matthew wrote a series of blog posts on the mural installed on Youth in Arts refurbished facade at 917 C Street. This is the fourth post in that series. Historic images from the Marin History Museum collection.
Section of Mural by Davidson students
Across the mural runs a strip of film, centered around a depiction of the “El Camino” Theater that used to be located on 4th Street in downtown San Rafael. This is a recognition of Marin’s place in the film industry stretching all the way back to the 19th Century, when Thomas Edison mounted a camera onto the gravity railroad car on Mt. Tamalpais in one of the earliest movies made, in March 1898. Eadweard Muybridge was another film pioneer who made many movies featuring the landscape of San Rafael, Sausalito, and Mt. Tamalpais.
The film industry in Marin continued to flourish, and even Charlie Chaplin came to work in San Rafael for a year. In 1912, as the movie business in Marin grew, the California Motion Picture Corporation, decided to form a movie studio in San Rafael. “Salomy Jane” is their earliest and last surviving film. They produced many silent films, centered around Beatrix Michelena, the wife of George Middleton, the studio director. After a few years, the studio went bankrupt and the movies were abandoned in a vault that would one day catch on fire, and most of the films would be lost.
In 1917, Leon Forrest Douglass, a long time San Rafael resident, produced the first colored film in America. He presented the technology to film companies and got a patent for it, but unfortunately, movie studios were unwilling to invest in new equipment. However, with the invention of the Technicolor process a few years later, Douglass’s patents were repeatedly violated and he won a large sum of money as a result.
After the failure of the California Motion Picture Corporation and the other local film studios in San Rafael and Fairfax, the film business slowed down in Marin. While many films were made in the county, the next big name to visit was George Lucas.
Lucas made the decision to film “American Graffiti” in San Rafael, the beginning of his involvement in Marin County. After the success of “Star Wars”, Lucas moved to San Anselmo and made the decision that his new film center would be in Marin. He financed the move to San Rafael and began working on the sequel to his first Star Wars movie. He would later shoot scenes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in Marin, and a scene from “Return of the Jedi” in Muir Woods. Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic bring the modern film to Marin, which has always been at the head of the industry.
El Camino, the theater depicted in the mural, was the premier theater in Marin County, opened in 1928. It had an organ, an orchestra pit, and elegant design, murals and furnishing in its lobby. The El Camino soon became the theater of choice as talkies emerged and the Depression began. As movie attendance went up, El Camino became even more and more successful, and the owners, the Blumenfelds, began building and buying theaters across Marin, including the Orpheus, the Sequoia, and the Lark.
The El Camino was closed in 1953 as television became popular. Some of its architecture can still be seen in the office buildings along Lootens Street (the theater was at Fourth & Lootens).
El Camino Theater, from the Marin History Museum collection
Film has always been a rich part of Marin’s history, San Rafael in particular. The presence of the theater and the film strip in the mural pays recognition to the rich culture it has given the county.
The San Rafael history mural at Youth in Arts was created with support from the County of Marin, the Fenwick Foundation, the MacPhail Family and the Marin Community Foundation. Youth in Arts will host a public reception and celebration of the mural on Friday, September 14, from 5-8 p.m. The event will include a dedication ceremony at 6 p.m. and the opening of a new exhibit on the creation of the mural by Davidson students.
Matthew Jackett is a junior at Marin Academy, interested in history and writing. As a 2012 summer intern for the Marin History Museum, Matthew wrote a series of blog posts on the mural installed on Youth in Arts refurbished facade at 917 C Street. This is the third post in that series. Historic images from the Marin History Museum collection.
Section of mural by Davidson students
San Rafael in the late 1800s
In the far right panel of the mural, a horse is depicted standing in front of the Bay View Livery and Sales Stables, the building that is currently Youth in Arts. The building has been owned since the 1870s by the MacPhail family, who now leases the space to Youth in Arts. In the front of the building is a Tally-Ho wagon with Neil MacPhail, the original owner of the livery, riding in the front.
Louise Arner Boyd
Above the building are three historic famous San Rafael residents. On the far left is Louise Arner Boyd, famed heiress, Marin native, and Arctic Explorer. She inherited her fortune from her father, who made his money as a mining tycoon. After her parents’ death, she began to spend her millions on lavish parties hosted in her home in San Rafael. She then began using her money to explore the Arctic region, and at the age of 64, became the first woman to fly over the North Pole.
The man in the middle is Billy Shannon, who owned a famous boxing training gym on Fourth Street from 1906 to 1914. It was called Billy Shannon’s Villa, and it was the choice destination for celebrity boxers at the time, such as Joe Gans, the first African-American boxing champion. Shannon provided lodging and training for the boxers while his wife would cook and feed them. On the weekends and holidays, boxing matches would be held and crowds would take the West End train to come see the fights. When boxing was outlawed temporarily in California, Billy Shannon’s Villa was forced to close, but he left San Rafael residents with the memories of the fights and the celebrity boxers, and he became a cherished memory of San Rafael at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The third member of the trio is Eleanor Garatti, who was Marin’s first Olympic gold medalist. She trained at San Rafael’s Municipal Bath House, and broke records across the country at swim meets, with the trips funded by local merchants. She won the gold medal in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam for the U.S. freestyle relay team, as well as a silver medal in the 100 meter freestyle. Four years later, she once again won the gold medal in the relay and this time won the bronze in the 100 meter freestyle at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. When she returned home, huge crowds came to celebrate along the train route from Sausalito to San Rafael. She became a local hero, hailed by the mayor of San Rafael as “Marin’s sweetest daughter.”
At the left of this mural panel are also two well-known San Rafael architectural landmarks–the historic Falkirk Mansion and the Marin Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
This part of the mural shows the past of San Rafael and all that has made it what it is today. Youth in Arts building itself can be seen, growing from a livery to a center that gives children the opportunity to explore the history of their city and express themselves through an artistic medium.
Read “History Behind the Mural, Part 1″
Read “History Behind the Mural, Part 2″
Matthew Jackett is a junior at Marin Academy, interested in history and writing. As a 2012 summer intern for the Marin History Museum, Matthew wrote a series of blog posts on the mural by Davidson Middle School students recently installed on Youth in Arts refurbished facade at 917 C Street. This is the second post in that series.
The next section of the mural includes the Spanish Mission, the cattle and dairy farming, and the changes in regime from Spain to Mexico to United States.
Matthew Jackett is a junior at Marin Academy, interested in history and writing. As a 2012 summer intern for the Marin History Museum, Matthew wrote a series of blog posts on the mural installed on Youth in Arts refurbished facade at 917 C Street. This is the first post in that series.
Section of YIA Mural created by Davidson students
Youth in Arts’ newest project allowing students to explore the history of Marin in an artistic medium is a mural placed on the outside of their building. The mural was created by students at Davidson Middle School with the help of Brooke Toczylowski, an artist who works with Youth in Arts.
The mural works inward from two ends chronologically, with the center panels representing the present and future of San Rafael. The beginning of the history of Marin and San Rafael is the Native American Miwoks, and that is what the first panel of the mural depicts.
Hundreds of seventh graders from Davidson mural spend the day streaming into the school library which had been transformed into a gallery to view their own creations.
Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Brooke Toczylowski worked with all Davidson Middle School seventh graders and their teachers Ed Cosgriff and Jeff Snow
to create collaborative Mini Murals on their personal histories in San Rafael.
Brooke led students in creating research workbooks to develop critical thinking skills as both Artists and Historians. Students described the visual elements they noticed in photographs, analyzed images by making educated hypotheses with supportive evidence, compared and contrasted photographs, and made connections between an arts process and a historical concept. Brooke taught specific elements of design to the students who worked with their teachers on their personal stories. Then the students worked in teams of two to create their visual story of San Rafael as a mini mural.
The gallery exhibit was a time for reflection on the artistic and learning process. Selected student comments:
“I learned that collaboration is hard, but creative things come out of the process.”
“I learned that the only way to get to San Rafael used to be through a train that is not there any more.”
“My classmates come from all over the world, I didn’t know that before this project.”
“There was a San Rafael day that featured bullfights with grizzly bears.”
“There was an old movie theater called the El Camino”
“I found out about layering, abstract and realistic art, the meaning of foreground and background. I learned that I’m an artist.”
The young and talented artists have been working on this project with Mentor Artist, Brooke Toczylowski, since November. For more posts about this project click HERE.
One of the ways the students transferred images onto the panels was to project their drawings or photos and then trace the shapes.
To the left Sonia and Declan transfer a photo of Sonia painting. This part of the mural represents the students’ own history and connection to the present and future of San Rafael. It was inspired by Diego Rivera’s Mural at the San Francisco Art Institute, “Making a Fresco.”
Local Master Artist Kalen Meyer came to Youth in Arts to speak with the students and share her artistic process. She showed the evolution of how her painting has changed over the years, including many images from her series, “36 Views of Mt. Tamalpais,” which is the local mountain included in the mural.
Students had prepared questions the day before after looking at images by Master Artists Tom Killion and Katsushika Hokusai (who is an inspiration for both Killion and Meyer.)
The young artists asked,
Do you use calm colors on purpose?
Do you ever paint a view or a place from that place, or do you always work from photographs?
How could we work on the background color of our mural?
After looking at Kalen’s work and going back to our mural the students found themselves inspired by her paint strokes and some of her techniques directly came out in the style of the mural.
“I learned that working as a team is better and it’s faster and when you work alone it looks all the same but when you work with lots of people it looks [different], like the [paint strokes] are different.” – Rosvin
“When I’m at home when I’m painting I’m alone in my room, but this so much more fun because you know you can be painting and then yell across the room and be like, ‘hey!’” – Sonia
“Something that doing this project has brought to me is…I made lots of new friends like Stefania and Jessica, and it made me also much closer to my good friends.” – Declan
“What I learned is that we had a community here. Like when we were [painting] Charles it was Natalie and then Stefania joined in and then Joselyn and me, too. We all did it together.” – Jessica
STAY TUNED! In June the mural will be installed on the Youth in Arts building. A gallery exhibit and community celebration will illustrate the mural process and celebrate the young artists’ hard work.
THANK YOU to all parents, artists, and volunteers that made this project possible.
And THANK YOU to Whole Foods, who provided much of the snacks and lunches for the kids during the week.
Part of the mural team poses in front of the historic Mission bells. Students have decided that the current San Rafael Mission steeples will be depicted in the mural. For more information about the history of the Mission go to the Marin History Museum.
At the Boyd Gate House, home of the Marin History Museum, students pulled out their art journals, in which they sketched and took notes of their discoveries. Students were particularly drawn to the Marin at War! exhibition, in which there were various service uniforms on display. Louise Arner Boyd was an arctic explorer and photographer from San Rafael, who will also be depicted in the historic mural by the students.
Next students visited the Falkirk Cultural Center, a historical 1888 San Rafael landmark which now presents contemporary art exhibitions. Students found themselves inspired by the prints on display in the galleries and enjoyed walking around the beautiful grounds, filled with sculptures and gardens.
At the corner of 4th Street and C streets students were given photographs or drawings of historical landmarks that still exist or used to exist on each of the four corners. They used visual clues to figure out which historical image matched each corner.
Arguably the most historical piece of real estate in downtown sits at the northwest corner of 4th and C streets, where Timothy Murphy lived, and which was used later as the courthouse. Murphy, who was named San Rafael’s first informal mayor, won a large land grant from the Mexican Government in 1844 and built his adobe house in downtown. He was a boisterous Irishman who reportedly spoke Miwok and Spanish , and who loved to have parties. San Rafael Day was born when church goers would go to Sunday mass at the Mission and walk over to Murphy’s house for afternoon drinks, food, and games. The Bank of Italy building now sits in the same location, built in the late 1920s. For more information check out the Early San Rafael History book on Google Books.
THEN: Bay View Livery and Stables, 1870s
NOW: Youth in Arts, 2012
The tour ended with us back at Youth in Arts, 917 C Street, where the final mural will be installed. The building was used as a livery and purchased by Neil MacPhail in the 1870s. Horses and carriages, including the famous Tally-ho were rented out to customers. When cars became the prominent mode of transportation the MacPhails ventured into the fuel business and later into appliances. The building is still owned by the MacPhail family and evidence of the passage of time fills the building. Beautiful sturdy wood beams hold up the warehouse in back, a manual horse elevator was used to bring the horses to the second floor stables, and elegant antique appliances adorn the attic.
“Paintings are but research and experiment. I never do a painting as a work of art. All of them are researches.” (Pablo Picasso)
Can art making be a form of hands-on research? What can we learn from our experiments and explorations?
How can we discover new things about our themes and about ourselves through making art?
Working with Mentor Artist Brooke Toczylowski the Mural Team at Davidson has been researching – both the history of San Rafael and painting. Toczylowski has studied Arts Based Research with Julia Marshall and Kimberley D’Adamo at San Francisco State University.
As they get ready to create the mural students are digging deep into both content and technique. Students use their art journals as a place to express, experiment, document, and learn.
To start their research the artists learned how to make a mind map in which they focused on what they already know about their chosen theme. For example, a student asks herself, “What do I already know about the Miwoks?” and “What do I want to know?”
Using resources from historical books, the internet, and oral histories from the Marin History Museum, students began their reading and researching. They created pages in their journals in which image and text intertwine and interact. Having such an open format allows them to make the content personal and relevant to their own lives.
In addition to historical research the artists are also experimenting with different paints and techniques. At the end of each session together students share what they’ve discovered support each other in their next steps.
Students started this three day intro to the mural project by discussing a visual essay about journaling. We looked at multiple ways artists use journals, including writers and poets. Below right is an image of one of Walt Whitman’s journals, from 1855.
Artists on the Mural Team started by using collage, watercolors, and colored pencils. Personal thoughts and voices immediately started flowing from the students, who were thrilled to make the covers entirely of their own design.
Students use old magazines and collage papers to create layers of images on their Art Journal covers.
A collaged cover at the end of Day One
While working I asked students to describe for me their thinking process:
“This is going to be dark and myseterious and the back is going to be light and colorful.” Elena
While looking for collage images: “I’m finding things I find interesting, like the car lights. I like how on one side [of the highway] they’re all red and on the other side they’re all white.” Sonia
“I like making it all colorful and different and random. That’s how I always work, with random drawings, and by scribbling.” Rosvin
At the end of each session students gather for a reflection and critique in which we discuss what we NOTICE, THINK, and WONDER. In preparation for the mural we talked about color, composition, texture, layering, and more.
Reflection and critique
On days two and three students were encouraged to use acrylic paints to layer on top of their watercolor paintings or collages they had already created.
A student uses the primaries to mix colors and paint on top of her collage.
Students were extremely proud of their journal covers and wanted to share with everyone their thoughts and ideas. During the third class the kids interviewed each other—even coming up with their own questions. Videos to come! Here’s a transcript of one of the interviews.
Sonia: So, why did you join Youth in Arts?
Kathleen: Because I always love art but I don’t have a lot of art supplies at home and my mom doesn’t like the mess so I came here and it’s really fun. I get to hang out with my friends while doing art.
Sonia: What are you painting right now?
Kathleen: I am making the back cover of my art journal right now, using collage and painting.
Sonia: And why are you painting what you’re painting?
Kathleen: Because I like having different themes on all my pages. This one is like Hawaii and this one is mainly animals and arctic things, and then here is like the sunset and African animals.
Sonia: Are you excited about painting the mural?
Kathleen: Yes, because I want to be on TV and I want to be famous, because this could be the beginning of my stardom. And we get a plaque with our names on them and so I can say I made that to my grandchildren and it’s still there.
For more blog posts on the Davidson Mural Project, click here and here.
To get involved in the project Email Mentor Artist, Brooke Toczylowski, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking for volunteers to help organize, paint, provide snacks, prep boards, and more.
Youth in Arts thanks Jerry Tallman of MinuteMan Press for donating the paper utilized in the journal process here and at many other sites.