UPDATE: We have exciting news to announce – the mural has been saved and is re-sited at Franklin Square Park – a Celebration and Dedication is planned for November 23, at 10 AM – location is 16th and Bryant Playground, San Francisco. Please attend if you can! Thanks to all who helped bring this important historic work back into public service! Scroll down for some background on the process -Im working on a more comprehensive article about Anthony Stellon and the trajectory of restoring this mural – please STAY TUNED!
ORIGINAL POST: JULY 22, 2010
On July 20th the Friends of Franklin Square hosted mosaic expert, Lillian Sizemore, for a public presentation on the history and significance of a beautiful 1968 mosaic mural that has been locked in storage for over 10 years. The mural is located adjacent to the Franklin Square Park that has recently undergone a 1.5 million dollar renovation, and the community group hopes to have the mural sited in their new playground.
Concerned community members gathered in support of restoring the mural. The family of the artist Anthony Stellon, (1941-2005), were present as special guests of the evening.
During the late 1950’s to mid-1970’s there was a major movement of abstract and modernist imagery used to embellish architectural settings, rising out of the WPA and Mexican muralist movement. At this time, Anthony Stellon’s ‘Brotherhood of Man’ mural was created in visceral response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and was a cosmic depiction of peace, harmony and equality.
The original mural, commissioned in 1968 by then San Francisco mayor, Joseph Alioto, was sited on an exterior wall of the Martin Luther King Jr. swimming pool, located in the Bay View area of San Francisco. The mural was created with the “indirect technique” and mounted to the original wall. As a result of pool renovations beginning in 1996, the City decided to retain the work by cutting it off the wall and putting it in storage. It was not re-sited at the pool and has remained in storage ever since.
The work consisting of the main pictorial image and two decorative marble side panels, has suffered deterioration. The good news is that the mosaic is, for the most part, intact. With professional conservation, the work could be cleaned and restored to it’s former glistening glory. The work remains a part of the City’s Civic Art Collection. It appears there is growing motivation for existing public art works to be restored, but due to legal intricacies of the sources available for the City’s art funding, compounded with a budget crisis, an outside funding effort must be our next goal. Sizemore has spearheaded the initiative to coordinate a community effort to see this cultural asset restored and re-sited for all to enjoy.
As a mosaic expert, Sizemore gave background on the techniques and materials used to create the mural, as well as historical evidence of many significant glass mosaic murals that were created during this era. The presentation closed with a energetic Question and Answer period, with a walk to the actual mural and proposed new site at Franklin Square Playground.
You are encouraged to make tax-deductible donations for the restoration effort directly to Friends of Franklin Square via their secure website.
If you make a tax-deductible donation of $50 or more, you’ll receive a copy of Lillian’s “A Guide to Mosaic Sites: San Francisco”, a full-color booklet with maps of many mosaic sites around the City.
NOTE: Make sure to use the pull-down menu to allocate funds directly to the Brotherhood of Man project!
Thanks goes out to SGI for the use of their beautiful auditorium, and to mosaic artist, Sonia King, for capturing these great images of the event.