The Stanley Mosk Library and Court Building
914 Capitol Mall
I recently toured the newly restored California State Library building. The $62 million restoration brought the library/courts building into the modern age. (The project came in under budget at around $49 million).
Although this Maynard Dixon mural experienced a small amount of damage during the restoration, it remains in Gillis Hall for all to enjoy.
Titled, A Pageant of Traditions, the mural is sixty nine feet long and fourteen feet tall.
The mural, painted after the library was opened in 1928, symbolically depicts the greatest influences on the history and development of California.
The left side shows the Spanish influences on California. Amongst these you will find a Spanish explorer, Jesuit and Franciscan priests, Californios, and an Hispanic workman with his wife. These are all pre-industrial California.
On the right side one sees symbolic references to the all that lies East of California. These figures include a colonial settler, a Revolutionary War officer, Native Americans and several Afro-Americans. There is a forty-niner from the gold rush and a 1920s worker and his family.
Over the entry way is a male figure depicting Power and a female figure depicting Beauty. Three books, encased in halos, are the books of philosophy, science and art .
Considered one of the nations greatest Western artists, L. Maynard Dixon was born near Fresno, California in 1875. He was an interpreter of western landscapes and Native American themes. He was a painter, a muralist, and an illustrator. He died in 1946 in Tucson, Arizona.
Although he was primarily self-taught, Dixon briefly studied at California Institute of Design in 1893. He worked as an illustrator for several California publications before going to New York where he worked at Scribner’s and Harper’s Monthly from 1907 to 1912.
He received a bronze medal for Trail in Oregon (1915) at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
The California State Library Foundations Bulletin put out a special issue on the restoration of the building in November of 2013. It has excellent accounts of the life of Dixon and his preparation and execution of this mural beginning on page 14.
The library is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, excluding holidays.