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August 29, 2006 > Hayward speaks in murals

Hayward speaks in murals

by Julie Grabowski

You see them here and there, in parking lots, in front of buildings, in the malls and places in between. They may please the eye, evoke emotions, some might even offend. Whatever the reaction, they are works by artists - famous, obscure or sometimes unknown. Over the next several weeks, TCV will feature selected works of art in public places throughout the greater Tri-Cities area. This week: Hayward.

Among the Bay Area's oldest cities, and the self-proclaimed "Heart of the Bay," Hayward has been home to millions since incorporating in 1876. To some residents, "Hayward" means a house or an apartment; to others it may mean schools or work. Then again, it may mean leisure time and social activities. But how many residents know of Hayward as open air art studio? Consistent with its unique character as a city, Hayward boasts a distinctive association with the art form of murals. In and on shops, buildings and even private homes, an observant passer-by can discover the history of Hayward richly told in murals of many mediums. Let's visit a few.

Formerly known as Rancho San Lorenzo, the city of Hayward goes back to its roots in this mural of the same name. Ricardo Daniel Gonzales relinquished his bullfighting cape after meeting an artist in a Paris hospital and produced this painting around 1989. He portrays the city as it was in 1800, over one hundred years before the area officially became known as Hayward. The mural focuses on rancho life, especially its joyful fiestas. The mural can be seen at Pablito's Restaurant on Mission and D Street.

From pioneers on horseback to a gliding BART train, Lester Grant Kent reveals his vision of city history, development, and growth in Vision of Hayward History. Notable sites such as the old City Hall and the William Meek estate are included, as well as Hayward's Hotel, run by proprietor, postmaster, and city namesake, William Hayward. Completed in 1978, the mural is housed in the Hayward Historical Museum at 22701 Main Street.

An 1870 photograph of the local volunteer fire company was the inspiration for Historical Firefighters by Richard Beck. Sculpted from redwood and lovingly maintained, this piece depicts firefighters in front of a "Jeffries" hand-pumper, a device that could blast 300 gallons of water a minute and was the first of its kind. Purchased after the1868 earthquake, it was later replaced by a horse-drawn engine. The project was commissioned by Jack Holland Jr. in memory of his mother, Anna M. Holland. The mural greets one and all outside Fire Station #1 at the corner of Main Street and C Street ever since its dedication in 1974.

Parisian Street Scenes dominate the walls inside Rue de Main Restaurant at 22622 Main Street. Former owner Robert Boyle commissioned the murals, sending artist Julie Heffernan to France for two months in 1981 to find subjects and inspiration. The shops and boulevard were vividly recreated from actual scenes on Paris' Left Bank where Ms. Heffernan lived. She demonstrated a mastery of perspective in depicting a boulevard so real you might well come close to strolling right into the wall.

American Comic Heroes speaks to Hayward's vibrant youth culture, uniting well-known characters in front of a waving American flag, prepared to defend and protect. The painting is at the site of a former comic book store on Tennyson Avenue. Apparently produced by a graphics company, the exact artist and completion date are unknown

In 1998 Ben Goulart predicted the future of his hometown in View to the West on B Street and Foothill Boulevard. The mural imagines life in 2013 Hayward, based on prophesies of peace and harmony achieved after an unavoidable catastrophe. Buildings like the miniature City Hall and the yet-to-be-built Calpine power plant are dominated by trees, showing the importance of reforestation and man's coexistence with nature. It's a pleasant notion and a noble goal for the Heart of the Bay.

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