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Jackson Civic Center Murals

LOCATION: Jackson City Hall Civic Center, 33 Broadway, Jackson, CA 95642

- Native American Scene at the Junction of the Creeks

01-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9879My mural is site specific. The middle and south forks of what we now call Jackson Creek meet here behind the Civic Center. Although there is no record that this locale was an actual home site for the Miwoks, the easy access to water and food must have made it a regular gathering spot. The mural's time period is way before 1848, definitely pre-Gold Rush.

Uppermost in my mind was to show the beauty and calmness of the Miwok life. I chose food gathering as the vehicle and green and golden tones of late summer/early fall to paint the bountiful scene. A woman enters on the left offering soaproot she has found upstream to be added to what others have dug. A young boy runs alongside, trinket bags bouncing on his leg. Acorns are eaten from trees to be ground into flour. A man fishes while his son chases frongs in the tall grass. Two women are by the natural spring which gurgled up on the north side of the creek's fork. Today its site is noted by a marker after you cross the footbridge from the Civic Center.

I used a realistic style in which to paint because I wanted the viewer to clearly identify with the scene, and to feel the threat posed by the crowd of miners and others imposing on the scene from the left. Indeed, a page of history changed for the Miwok. My border, painted as rawhide, show authentic Miwok basketry designs which represent, clockwise from center top: standing erect, star, arrowhead, box, and finally gold, which the man "shouts" into the border. The wording is a compilation of thoughts I have gathered in my reading.

I hope the Miwoks of Amador County, and all Native Americans, will accept my mural as recognition not only of the injustices against them, but as a tribute to their people, the beauty and richness of their lives, and the value of their ways.  
 ~ Carol Sethre

#2 - Founding of Jackson - First Store: 1849

02-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9876This mural is our idea of how it must have been when Louis Tellier set up his tent and started the first store in the area, which was later called Jackson.

The scene is framed by a Vaquero and his horse on one side and two local Indians on the other. We lease the viewer to guess what these onlookers are thinking as they view the scene below them of unwanted guests taking over land.

The scene itself shows Louis Tellier General Store full of supplies and equipment, his wagon and horses, a few customers and passers by, a drunk, who evidently got his bottle from the store, accosting a couple of Chinese, and a man hauling water from the spring, which is probably the main reason for the store itself.

The large oak tree adjacent to the store was later to become the towns hanging tree.

We chose summer for the time element so as to depict the beautiful golden hills which California is so well known form.
~Anne-Marie Fielding & William Porteous

#3 - Formation of the County, 1854

This painting hopes to capture the emotion and political climate on June 14th, 1854, as news spread of the newly formed Amador county is announced on Main Street in Jackson. Jubilation and anger are displayed by the varying factions. Miners and cowboys mix with politicians and businessmen in the revelry. A clerk's ballot box is sent tumbling, an indication of the questionable vote tally. There seems to be an abundance of ballots around. One man casts his "extra's" into the air in exalt, while more seems to be strewn on the street. A coachman needs to guide the stage team of horses through the revelers so that it may get along to its destination. Glasses and bottles are raised in salute as a fiddler plays to the crowd. Some debates are settled with fisticuffs, with combatants emboldened by alcohol. A man holds aloft a goin of gold, a symbol of what brought people to this historic region and an indication of the name given to the new county. A reminder to the citizens of the finality of the law, the hanging tree casts its shadow across the frontier street.

Those who are not allowed to vote, due to their race and those who are not interested in the revelry, seem to be departing, miners in search of gold and mountain men in search of solitude. A family of women quickly ushers her children, the future of the new county, from the scene and its excessive display of emotion, alcohol and gunfire.

Though the events of the day are not actually known, this imagined scene tries to suggest the end result of a 4-year effort of political ploys and maneuverings, which brought about the birth of Amador County.
~ Rand Huggett, Artist

#4 - Jackson, Great Fire of 1862

04-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9872The fire of 1862 destroyed most of Main Street Jackson, Chinatown, Water Street, Court and Summit Streets, and most significantly, the County Court House. A few building survived to this day....the Constitution Saloon (Jackson's Women's Club), the Globe Hotel, Wells Fargo Club, and the DePaoli law office where county officials saved the records by storing them in this brick building. Most of today's Jackson was built after the 1862 fire.

The mural shows officials rescuing documents from the old courthouse on the left, and bringing them across the painting to the law office on the extreme right. The fire brigade is depicted in the left center middle ground, trying to put out the uncontrolled fire with a leaking hose and an empty cistern. The view is looking west down Court Street to the burning buildings of Main Street. In the background, through the fire and smoke, one can barely glimpse the barren hills. Random citizens and even a horse are depicted in a panic frenzy and utter despair.

We chose Expressionism as an art form, with it's broad, stylized technique, vivid colors, and dramatic light, to demonstrate the power of fire and destruction. We painted fast and furiously, not getting caught up in painting details. We offer this mural to the community of Jackson in remembrance of their ancestors who rebuilt the town we love today.
 ~ Art Class of John Pretto, Argonaut High School, Fern White, Amber Shomler & Alexandria Sisneroz

#5 - Native Daughters of the Golden West

05-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9869Almost one hundred and fourteen years ago, on September 11th, 1886, 13 young women met at the Pioneer Hall on Main Street in Jackson, California to found the "Native Daughters of the Golden West, Ursula Parlor #1". We of the Mural Crew at Arts in Correction, Mule Creek State Prison were given the opportunity to create a mural to celebrate this historic event.

When doing artwork based on events, we were restricted somewhat by the limited quaintly of coerce photographs. Our design includes images representing founders and members, symbols, and images from a celebration in 1931 that included members and the site of the founding. To give the flavor of the time we chose sepia tone.

This is an oil painting worked on by two inmates and myself with assistance from other members for the mural crew. We hope the viewer bears with our choices and realizes we would prefer not to leave anyone out

When doing a mural (to paraphrase Lincoln)...

"You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time" We hope you are pleased.  
  ~ Everet Jensen, Art's in Correction, Mule Creek State Prison

#6 - Hard Rock Mining, Jackson, 1890-1930

Hard Rock or Quartz mining began immediately after the Placer gold Rush in California with the first deep mine began om 1851 in Amador City. The Gold vein, the Mother Lode, was a rich deposit of gold found in quartz rock from the Mokelumne River to the Cosumnes River in Amador County. The vein was narrow in areas and expanded to perhaps 100 feet in other areas. It roughly follows Highway 49 in spots. The area from North Jackson to Martell was especially rich and is the location of the deepest and richest mines in the Lode, the Kennedy and the Argonaut. Together, the combined mines of Amador County, some 300 or more in number produced over $160,000,000 in gold by the year 1957.

The attempt in this mural is to present a scene of the gold miners going to work on their day shift, around 7AM. Included are items from their lives such as boarding houses, mines, locations, structures, and some of the clothing and implements that they would have used in their daily work. We are familiar with structures that spanned many years so I am stretching the period over some thirty years in include what developed during the first part of the 20th Century.

Most miners changed in a change house at the mine, so that their clothes going and coming from the mines would not be work clothes. However, I wish to identify that occupation, so the need for an occasional hard hat, pick, etc. Many miners had dinner brought to them by boarding house children, so they would not be carrying buckets, however for illustration sake, I felt this depiction vital.

The Kennedy Tailing wheels are an important visual element or image of the mining venture; I included them as they were there when built in the first years of 1900, covered by their sheds. One is opened to show the familiar wheel that we re used to seeing, which didn't make their debut until the 1940's. Locations and directions are slightly adjusted for artistic and spatial sake, as I wanted to include as many important structures as possible to Jackson's history, even the town in the distance, with the mountains of the Mokelumne in the distance.

Artistically, I used a color pallet similar to the 19th Century landscape painters. My intention was to express the ethnic quality of the miners depicted; the Cornish, Italians, Slavonian, Irish, Austrian, Mexican, and other ethnic groups that played such an important part in the history of mining and the development of Jackson and Amador County.

The scene depicted is sketched from North Jackson Gate Road, including the Gate House Inn and the Chichizola Store on the left, looking through the "Gate" at Teresa's to the Kennedy and Argonaut mines on the right. Then the scene takes you to south along Jackson Gate past St. Sava's Church to Jackson and the Mokelumne River.
~ Robert Richards

#7 - Founding of St. Sava First Serbian Orthodox Church in North America, 1894

07-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9888The Church, the first in Northern America, symbolizes the Serbian people who settled in Amador County and Jackson, who worked the mines, tilled the soil, raised families and celebrated their faith. The church, St. Sava, is unique in its architecture, and the graveyard surrounding it speaks of many parishioners that lived and died and were burweed around their church. The stones are a history lesson and tell stories of over 100 years of community. I am placing great emphasis on the graves and their monuments for this reason. I am visually starting with the gate, the entrance to the church, the people, their souls, their pride and conviction. I have rendered the church as the original one with its onion dome. However the scene stretches from 1894, the founding to the present, and depicts celebrations and names from a 100 year period. Photos of the deceased are found on the stones, so I have used this idea to portray scenes from their lives on the stones, such as marriages, Toma and Storje kosich in 1907. The first priest, the very reverend Archimandrite Seastian Dabovich who named the church for the patron saint, St. Sava. The 75th Diamon Anniversary is shown in part as well as a statue depicting the Serbian miners who lost their lives in the Argonaut Disaster.

The colors of the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas were chosen for the murals; the colors of deep blue and orange and maroon one sees on decorations and designs of the Orthodox Faith. The sketches show the pride, history, and patriotism of the congregation. I see mysticism and even surrealism in the composition, of the church and graveyard. I refer to Vincent Van Gogh and his painting of the Church of Auviers in France. Realism was not an issue in the composition, but the expression, emotion and cubistic like shapes were my concern. I tried to balance the colors throughout the painting and to keep the sky surrounding the scene simple but moving so as not to distract from the scene.

I hope that the Serbian and Slavic community will accept this mural as a tribute to their lives and hard work, their faith and commitment, and their contribution to the founding, settling and development of Jackson and Amador County.  
~ Robert Richards

# 8 - The Argonaut Disaster, 1922

08-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9886On August 28th, 1922, people from the county, state and country united in an attempt to save miners trapped in the Argonaut Mine. The disaster had, in fact, begun a year prior, when a fire raged through the shafts of the Argonaut. Officials believed that they had extinguished the fire, but a year later, miners blasted into a sealed tunnel, and the backdraft caused from the rush of oxygen into the chamber rekindled the blaze anew.

Although, most miners were able to exit the mine safely, forty-seven men were entombed in a horizonal mineshaft. The miners above ground had the ability and the opportunity to rescue the trapped workers, but a higher authority objected on the grounds that he did not want to risk damaging valuable mine equipment. After the fire was determined to be finally extinguished, a rescue attempt was under way.

Meanwhile, the miners trapped below were faced with their own problems. Carbon monoxide gas from the fire was creeping through the cracks in the walls, and slowly suffocating them. They managed to seal themselves into their own tomb. With no hope of rescue, they waited for death.

On the surface, forces from all over the state were uniting in a rescue effort for the trapped miners. A train carrying state-of-the-art mining equipment from Nevada to California broke the world record for speed. Planes transporting supplies flew in from all over. Miners worked double and triple time to break in through other tunnels. Competing mines, the Kennedy and the Argonaut, were brought together through this tragedy for the common good. However, after nearly a month of digging, when the miners broke through, the trapped workers were found dead. It was determined that the miners had perished within hours after the accident.

The challenge behind this mural was portraying the fear, desperation, and sadness among the miners, the trapped workers, and the families and friends of both. Above the ground, the relief miners are resting and reading the newspaper, and are seen with solemn faces. To the left, families are distraught and being comforted by Red Cross workers. The Argonaut headframe looms ominously in the background. Below the frame are the trapped workers, trying desperately to buy themselves as much time as possible by blocking the cracks with lumber and clothing strips, working while assured to their demise. Across from them is the rescue team, working diligently to work their way to the trapped workers. As artists, we were honored to have taken part in the commission, and we feel that bring the historical importance of this event to public knowledge is essential in preserving our county's heritage.
~ Harmony MacDonald, Adrian Dayton-Rogers,  David Johnson & Denice Borjon

#9 - The War Years 1942-1945 - Typical of All Wars

09-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9882The mural depicts the young draftees, mostly of high school age, gathering at the courthouse in Jackson every week and going off to the reception center where you see them on the training field learning the be soldiers.

The train represents the mode of transportation used to move the troops around the county and the ship represents the way they were transported to the different war zones.

In trying to include all branches of the services, you will see Airborne troops jumping into combat, B-24 bomber, ships at seas with an aircraft carrier, infantry charging up the beach, marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima symbolizing victory.

Below you see a cemetery, a field of crosses row on row where only poppies grow.

The portrait of the soldier at war's end tries to show the horrors of war and what is does to man as an individual.

Last and best of all home at last a father with his little girl.

As a after thought, John C. Begovich with his boot on Mussolini's portrait, one of Jackson's war heroes.
~ William Porteous

#10 - Heart Shaped Plaque in Jackson - Gambling and Prostitution - 1935-1968

010-FarrellPhotography_net IMG_9881Jackson was noted from the start of its history in 1850, as a "rip roaring town", where entertainment of all kinds could be had at any time of the day and especially at night. The town, like most in the Mother Lode, was a gold camp inhabited by mainly men under the age of 25 years, so one should not be surprised at the general rowdiness of the time. Even as Jackson saw the increase of women, children, family life with churches and honorable businesses, it never lost its exciting edge as the center of social life in Amador County. As late as the 1940's when I came into this world, Jackson boasted over 20 saloons on Main Street, most of which offered gambling. Prostitution, which started services for the mostly single men of the mining era, never left, and in fact was a booming business till it was closed in 1956. Jackson was referred to as "Little Reno" and drew visitor "tourist" from all over; the Bay Area to Los Angles and further still. I was from Sutter Creek, and when anyone wanted to know where that was, I only had to mention Jackson.

As I remember much of this life during the 1940's and early 50's, I sketched the composition with much memory of those days. Even though we were teenagers, we were influenced by the events on Main Street, Jackson. I am depicting Jackson, Main Street, the sough end with the National Hotel at the base, during a Saturday night in 1935. 1935 was chosen due to a famous photo in circulation, and it would also offer one of the most bustling years during the Depression and Prohibition Era, which Jackson seemed to thrive on.

I have adjusted the time period to include 1955, when my teen friends and I used to "Cruise Main" observing the sights; and 1956 when the new Attorney General of the State of California, pat Brown, created a great raid that closed the houses and gambling forever. The far right of the mural shows a scene from 1968, when the "Filthy Five", dedicated and than caused the disappearance of the Heart Shaped Plaque that was placed in front of the Bridge House, the entrances to three of the houses of ill repute, or female boarding houses as many called them. Businesses and bars are circa 1935 as well as automobiles except for a few depicting a specific time period (on the license plates) if you do not know car vintages.

I have adjusted the geography and building a bit in include Water Street where a lot of action went on. I tried a style in favor during the 20's and 30's in America, based on paintings of Edward Hopper and George Ellows who depicted steamy side of life in America. The events seem to be important to get a perspective of what life was in Jackson on weekends before the Raid in 1956. Many thanks to witnesses Beorge Canicovich and Bill Tasto for their help in this Mural.
~ Robert Richards

For a printable version of Jackson's murals and photographs viewer's guide CLICK HERE.