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Outside Lands Podcast Episode 476: Pan American Unity

We previously told the story of the GGIE's Art in Action, now Nicole and Arnold dig a little deeper into Diego Rivera's masterpiece, Pan American Unity.
by Nicole Meldahl - Oct 8, 2022

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 476: Pan American Unity Outside Lands Podcast Episode 476: Pan American Unity


Podcast Transcription

WNP476 Pan American Unity
Nicole: [00:00:00] It's Outside Lands San Francisco, Podcast of the Western Neighborhoods Project. I'm Nicole Meldahl.
Arnold: And I'm Arnold Woods.
Nicole: Arnold, it's wonderful to see you again. I haven't seen you or heard your voice in so long.
Arnold: I know it's been, I don't know, like at least a week.
Nicole: I, you know what? I'm gonna pull the curtain back on the magic that is the podcast. Sometimes we record a bunch of these in a row, which I'm sure will shock you all.
Arnold: We talk about things that haven't happened yet. But we talk about them as if they've already happened.
Nicole: Which is different from what we normally do as historians where we talk about things that already happened, but in like a more present light.
Arnold: So along those [00:01:00] veins…
Nicole: Can you tell this is the last one we're recording tonight?
Arnold: ...for the first time all summer, I had last weekend off.
Nicole: Oh yeah, how'd that go, Arnold? What'd you do?
Arnold: I spent the weekend at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park instead of at The Museum at The Cliff.
Nicole: Yeah, we, we, I already miss, you know, seeing you all on weekends, dear listeners who came to support this. But I also am enjoying being a regular weekend person. But anyways, you're not here to hear about that you're here because. You wanna hear about the Pan American Unity mural, which was the title of this podcast. So, let's get into that. San Francisco held its third World's Fair in 1939 to celebrate the opening of two world class [00:02:00] bridges in 1936 and 1937. And as many of you know, it was called the Golden Gate International Exposition, and it took place on the newly created Treasure Island, which still blows my mind that people are in, in the thirties, were like we should build an extra piece of San Francisco. That's not what this podcast about is about. It's not the story of the GGIE, but we will tell you that our OpenSFHistory website has tons of photos of it, and they're in color and they're amazing.
Arnold: Unfortunately though, for the organizers of that fair, It didn't really make any money, so the committee in charge decided they would have a season two of it, and they decided to reopen the GGIE in the summer of 1940. For that second season, they lowered ticket prices and brought in [00:03:00] some new attractions in the hope of making it more popular and thus, turn a profit.
Nicole: Sounds kinda like The Museum at The Cliff. Anyways, um, selling art and history is hard. One of the new attractions in the GGIE's second year was an exhibit called Art in Action. And this podcast is also not the story of Art in Action as we told you about this project way back in podcast number 440. But it featured artists creating works of art while the public watched them, and it was so popular that it merited a full color Life Magazine article, which is also pretty wild. Numerous artists took part in this exhibit, but the clear star was famed Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera.
Arnold: And this podcast is the full, shall we say, unabridged story of Diego Rivera's Art and Action [00:04:00] project. His piece entitled Pan American Unity, was begun in June 1940 and completed actually three months after the fair ended in November 1940. Before we get to the art, let's provide a little background context.
Nicole: And this definitely is the abridged version. Otherwise we would be here for a really long time.
Arnold: Diego had a very wild life.
Nicole: Which far more informed people can tell you about cause we are not an expert on Diego Rivera.
Arnold: So it's unabridged as to Pan American Unity, but very much abridged as to Diego Rivera.
Nicole: Yeah, but, so let's get into Diego Rivera, whose full name was, oh, we should also say, look, we're gonna mispronounce a lot of things today. We are doing our best, and I apologize to anybody of Spanish descent or Mexican descent who was offended by how much we butcher [00:05:00] these things. But look, we really are trying, okay? So please be patient and know that we're going to butcher some of this, okay? So, Diego Rivera's full name was Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez.
Arnold: Very good.
Nicole: Oh boy. I'm pulling up all my Southern California roots for that one. He was born in Mexico in 1886 and began drawing at a young age, initially on the walls of his home. So parents, when you see your kids doodling on the walls, you could be the mother and father of the next Diego Rivera, and maybe you should just let it happen.
Arnold: Well, actually, Diego's parents didn't let it continue happening. In, in a way, but to encourage his art and keep their [00:06:00] walls safe, his parents put up canvas and chalkboards on the walls.
Nicole: Love this so much. They're like, No, no, no. Wait, wait. Do it on here.
Arnold: Diego began formally studying art at the age of 10. Imagine that at 10 at the Academy of San Carlos and Mexico City at the age of 21. He left to continue his art studies in Europe, first in Madrid, then in Paris and Italy.
Nicole: This is how I know I'm not a genius because I feel like I've really just come into my own in my late thirties, I didn't like launch at the age of 10. So, he was inspired by Pablo Picasso like many people were and Rivera dabbled in the Cubist style for a period before shifting to a post-impressionist style after seeing Paul Cezanne’s work. And I believe we've done a podcast on other folks who were inspired by Paul Cezanne. But anyways, [00:07:00] however, after his studies in Italy of Renaissance frescos, Rivera subsequently began working in that medium. He returned to Mexico in 1921 to participate in a government sponsored mural program.
Arnold: And his first significant mural, which was called Creation, was paint painted using a hot wax style called Encaustic painting, but most murals thereafter were frescos. In addition to his painting, he became politically involved, joining the Mexican Communist Party, although he would later be expelled from that party in 1929.
Nicole: Wa Wa.
Arnold: So, it was because he went to work for the government and the Mexican Communists said, that's no good. Get out.
Nicole: I have been recently, this is a non-sequitur, but I've been recently getting into like artists who were communists and had this like segue out of the communist party as it sort of shifted and tumbled through all of the like fascism of the thirties and the forties. It's really [00:08:00] interesting to see this utopian community, cause that's essentially what communism is, be sort of like unveiled and like have to sort of question everything they've been taught. In case it's wondering how I spend my free time.
Arnold: Okay. I will say Rivera's politics clearly informed his work.
Nicole: Definitely. Yeah, and we're gonna get into that. So the Pan American Unity was not Rivera's first piece of art created in San Francisco. In 1929. He accepted a commission from famed San Francisco, architect Timothy Pflueger, to paint a mural at the city club at the San Francisco Stock Exchange. Because when I think Diego Rivera, I think let's put his work in the halls of commerce. This commission started an uproar. How could a communist be hired to contribute to a temple of capitalism?
Arnold: Now Pflueger, he responded to that criticism by essentially telling the critics to [00:09:00] mind their own business. since the mural was not in a public area, but in the private club area where members were free to put up anything they wanted on their walls.
Nicole: I have to say, cause Arnold wrote these notes, when I first saw that, I just thought of Timothy Pflueger snapping his fingers going, mind your business? Mind your business. And I haven't been able to get that image out of my head.
Arnold: I'm sure that's exactly how Timothy Pflueger said it.
Nicole: Can somebody who knows how to make gifs or jifs or who, like some young person, please make me a Timothy Pflueger, like snapping his fingers, saying, "Mind your business," like meme. I need that. Anyways, please continue. Arnold.
Arnold: Yes. So, Rivera arrived in San Francisco to begin this mural in November, 1930. It was called Allegory of California and was completed the following year. It had its initial showing at the stock exchange on Saturday, March 14th, 1931.
Nicole: [00:10:00] In general, a great time for the stock market. So, as he was completing Allegory in California, Rivera announced in February 1931, a second San Francisco mural to be painted at the California School of Fine Arts, now better known as the former San Francisco Art Institute. RIP SFAI. I hope you have a future. In their exhibition room. The second mural was called the Making of a Fresco, showing the building of a city and was unveiled on Tuesday, August 11th, 1931. These two murals were the first two works done by Rivera in United States, and boy does he love long titles for his murals.
Arnold: I should note that, that second mural is a, basically a mural showing Diego Rivera and his assistants painting a mural.
Nicole: That's like us recording a podcast about how we record the podcast.
Arnold: Very meta.[00:11:00] So now we get back to the Golden Gate International Exposition. As we mentioned at the beginning, season two of the GGIE featured the Art and Action Exhibition. And as we also mentioned, this exhibit was the brainchild of Timothy Pflueger, who was on the GGIE'S design committee.
Nicole: Convenient.
Arnold: Art in Action took place in the huge Fine Arts Palace, which would later become an aircraft hanger to entice the public. PFleuger needed a star as the main attraction for art and action, and he knew just who to turn to.
Nicole: Yep, Pflueger brought Rivera to San Francisco for a second time to be the GGIE star. According to Pflueger, Rivera accepted the invitation on the condition that he be allowed to create a personal work that would advance the friendly relations between the United States and Mexico. And how can you say no to that Arnold?
Arnold: Not at all. So, Rivera arrives in San Francisco on Wednesday, June 5th, 1940. Pflueger [00:12:00] meets him at the airport and immediately takes him to the Top of the Mark lounge at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Pflueger had designed the cocktail lounge, which had been completed the year before, and he wanted Rivera to see the quote “splendor of San Francisco at sunset.”
Nicole: This is one of my favorite stories that we've gotten to tell on the podcast y'all. So, the Top of the Mark had a rule where gentlemen must wear ties. And when they arrived, the elevator operator refused to take them up to the Top of the Mark because Rivera was wearing an open blue shirt, or he was racist. Really hard to tell, but here we go. Pflueger tried to pull the, “but I designed the Top of the Mark” card, but was rebuffed by the operator who said, sorry, no exceptions and they left. As they left, Rivera quipped. “well that proves the neck tie is mightier than the architect.” I love that so much. He's [00:13:00] like, but I designed this part of the building. And this guy was like, no, I have clear orders Sir.
Arnold: You know, as a brief aside, back in the eighties, I went to the restaurant at the top of the Bank of America building whose name is escaping me right now. But similarly, you know, they had a, you know, had to have the coat and tie. And, as I normally do at restaurants, I get in there, I sit in my chair, I take off my coat to hang it on the back of the chair. And the waiter's like, no, no, no, no, you must keep the coat on.
Nicole: You heathen.
Arnold: Anyways, Rivera was supposed to begin painting at Art in Action on Tuesday, June 12th, 1940, but he was a no show.
Nicole: Classic.
Arnold: Seems some people in Los Angeles wanted to honor him at a party that day, so he flew down, received his honors, and flew back that night. So, he actually began the following day on June [00:14:00] 13th, 1940, painting what would become to be known as Pan American Unity.
Nicole: You know, I, I would like to have a do-over for my career and I would like to be an artist instead, cause you can you imagine, if I like didn't show up for a presentation I was giving at a conference, and was just like, oh, sorry, I got invited to some party down South. I'll be back later. Would never, it would never work. But for artists, you're like, Oh, totally understandable.
Arnold: It's expected of them.
Nicole: Oh boy. So, let's talk about the mural. It's an enormous fresco, measuring 74 feet wide by 22 feet high, painted on 10 steel framed panels in five sections, and weighed 23 tons. And while he was here, Rivera lived on Telegraph Hill where he would occasionally paint portraits on commission. And may I just say, olden times San Francisco, Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill [00:15:00] seemed like where it was at. It was like a bunch of artist types, you know. Things like that. I mean, I just, that if I, if I were fabulously wealthy, I would like to relocate to one of those hills. But anyways, moving on.
Arnold: So Rivera did not accomplish this mural on his own. He was helped by chief assistants, Emmy Lou Packard and Arthur Neindorff. And there was Thema Johnson-Streat, an African American artist and textile designer, and then Mona Hoffman. They all worked on this mural together. It was so big that Rivera could not finish it before the GGIE closed on September 29th, 1940, though that may have been partially caused by his habit, as we mentioned, of frequently going to parties or leaving for out of town forays.
Nicole: So good. It would take another two months to complete and remains Rivera's largest mural. When the mural was completed, the Fine [00:16:00] Arts Palace on Treasure Island was reopened for a preview on Friday, November 29th, that was by invitation only, and again on Sunday, December 1st, 1940, for the public to come view Pan American Unity.
Arnold: And this was a big deal. On December 1st, 1940, some 32,000 cars and over 100,000 people came out to see the mural. According to Rivera, San Francisco's Republican mayor, Angela Rossi quipped, “this Rivera is more popular than Wendell Wilke.”
Nicole: A joke. No one understands anymore.
Arnold: No. And to explain that to you, Wilkie was the Republican candidate for president who had been absolutely crushed by Franklin Roosevelt in the prior month’s election.
Nicole: Like good grief. So, the Pan American Unity or Pan American Unity also generated a great deal of controversy. Among the figures [00:17:00] depicted on it were Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and for his part, Rivera was antifascist and wanted the US to enter the war against these, these fascist figures then taking a stranglehold in Europe. So very similar to the right wing push that we see today, right? There was a huge wave of, of fascism that was taking all of Europe by storm at the time. Okay. Not that similar. That was a weird comparison. But like, bad things was happening in, in Europe at this time. Oh gosh. There were protests about these depictions, but the San Francisco Art Commission approved it based on its artistic integrity, although they did defer judgment of appropriate subject matter to the Board of Education. And we'll get into why the Board of Education was involved a little bit later.
Arnold: Now, he actual title of the mural is “Unión de la Expresión Artistica del Norte y Sur de [00:18:00] este Continente.” My, I never took Spanish. Sorry, but…
Nicole: Nailed it. Actually, that's probably not right, but that was pretty good, Arnold.
Arnold: Anyways, what that means is the “Marriage of the artistic expression of the north and of the south on this continent.” However, it quickly became known as Pan American Unity. Rivera explained quote, “I believe in order to make an American art, a real American art, this will be necessary. This blending of the art of the Indian, the Mexican, the Eskimo, with the kind of urge which makes the machine the invention in the material side of life, which is also an artistic urge, the same urge primarily, but in a different form of expression.” End quote.
Nicole: Yeah, and podcast number 440, that we mentioned earlier, told you that each of the five sections of Pan American Unity had their own themes. So, to reiterate and expand on this, Arnold, what is in section one? [00:19:00]
Arnold: I knew you would do this to me.
Nicole: Oh! Oh!
Arnold: More names we’re gonna mispronounce probably.
Nicole: Oh gosh.
Arnold: Section one theme was the creative genius of the South growing from religious fervor and a native talent for plastic expression, get used to these long titles for the themes of each section.
Nicole: Yeah.
Arnold: This section included a depiction of Nezahualcoyotl. He was a scholar, warrior, architect, poet, and ruler in the city state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico. Best known, however, for his poetry.
Nicole: My favorite part. I know we were both, Arnold and I, were like, oh God, which one's gonna have to say it on the podcast? And, and Arnold came up with the short straw. I'm sorry. So section two was called Elements from Past and Present. This section included, among others, depictions of and I quote, “Great liberators” like former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, [00:20:00] and Abraham Lincoln. Please don't email us. We're not getting into a discussion about our complicated founding fathers here. It wasn't our decision to put them in this mural. It was Diego Rivera’s. Another American in this part of the mural is John Brown, who of course is the abolitionist who incited a slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry, preceding the Civil War. An actual great liberator.
Arnold: So, there was other non U.S. great liberators in section two. These included Simon Bolivar, known as the Liberator of America, the Venezuelan leader who led Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Bolivia to independence from Spain. There's also Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and Jose Maria Morelos, leaders of the Mexican War for Independence.
Nicole: Then curiously, we have Croatian-American Olympic Diver, Helen Curlenkovich shown diving above the Bay Bridge and who was diving [00:21:00] at a GGIE exhibition that year. Fun facts about Helen. Her mom brought her to San Francisco in the early 1930s so she could achieve her dreams as a swimmer and she attended City College. Working nights as a hotel accountant, practicing dives for two hours a day while majoring first in pre-law, but then switching to physical education, which makes a lot more sense. And alongside her, we also have Hollywood stuntman and swimmer Sal DeGuarda, which we did cover in episode 440.
Arnold: Last, but not least in section two, is sculptor Mardonio Margana, an artist who was discovered by Rivera, who believed that he was, quote, “the greatest contemporary Mexican sculptor.” Perhaps that's why he's depicted alongside Rivera and his assistant Mona Hoffman. Geniuses gotta stick together.
Nicole: Yeah, they do. The theme of section three was the Plastic Modification of Creative Power of the Northern [00:22:00] Mechanism by Union with the Plastic Tradition of the South. Again, Diego Rivera loved incredibly long and complicated titles. So, this part of the mural is actually anchored by a depiction of the Aztec Goddess of Life, Coatlicue, merged with a giant Detroit machine. So, this is the part where he's connecting the North and the South. Here we have artist Frida Kahlo, who needs maybe no explanation, and she's pulling inspiration from Native Traditions in the mural, as well as woodcarver Dudley Carter, who was also part of Art in Action, doing his own works. And yes, we have an entire podcast about him, episode number 332. So, in the mural he's depicted using a hand ax instead of motorized tools. So, sort of this push and pull between early, more primitive like methods of creation versus the mechanized methods of modern [00:23:00] times.
Arnold: So next in section three, we have actress Paulette Goddard, whose the leading lady to Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, and Diego Rivera again, And they're shown together holding the Tree of Life and love together, while the son of Rivera's assistant Emmy Lou Packard watches. This section is completed with Timothy Pflueger reviewing architectural plans because, of course.
Nicole: Yeah, I mean, you gotta have, you gotta have Pflueger doing what Pflueger does. So, section four's theme carried the lengthy title of and I quote, Trends of Creative Effort in the United States and the Rise of Women in Various Fields of Creative Endeavor through Her Use of the Power of Manmade Machinery. That might be the longest one yet. So naturally we have some badass women here. Again we have Emmy Lou Packard, Paulette Godard, and Helen [00:24:00] Curlenkovic. We also have architects Otto Deichmann, Mary Anthony, and Frank Lloyd Wright, because building buildings will also be, will always be the ultimate combination of art and science right?
Arnold: Now this is also the controversial section with images of notorious figures such as Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Stalin, Mussolini. In addition, Section four features actors, Charlie Chaplin and Jack Oakie playing characters from the film, The Great Dictator, as well as actors, Francis Letterer and Edward G. Robinson, shown in a scene from Confessions of a Nazi.
Nicole: This is an aside, but I just learned that Charlie Chaplin's famous little mustache, which is unfortunately very much the Hitler mustache, was fake.
Arnold: You should see pictures of him without the mustache.
Nicole: Yeah, and it's disturbing, like just his face all naked without that mustache, like, it's not what I want from him Anyways, you learn something new every day [00:25:00] friends. Going back to the mural…finally, the theme for section five was the Creative Culture of North Developing from the Necessity of Making Life Possible in a New and Empty Land. Famed inventors, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Samuel Morris, and Robert Fulton are depicted here. By the way, learned this while researching the podcast. Robert Fulton invented the first commercially successful steamboat, but was also commissioned by Napoleon to design one of the earliest submarines. And we're not gonna explain the rest of these inventors because, god bless, if you all don't know who Edison, Ford and Morse are, there's nothing this podcast can do to help you.
Arnold: Also depicted in Section five is painter Albert Pinkham Ryder, known for his allegorical works and seascapes, but also his eccentric personality. Then there's Sarah Gerstel, [00:26:00] who is married to the president of the California School of Fine Art, William Gerstel, and she is shown doing embroidery.
Nicole: So after the two-day viewing of Pan American Unity, it was crated and left in storage on Treasure Island, along with many of the other large pieces of art from the Art in Action exhibition. The reason for this was that the intended permanent location for the pieces hadn't been built yet.
Arnold: And while awaiting this permanent location, Pan American Unity was actually offered to the de Young Museum as a temporary exhibit. However, the de Young decline bummer because of its size. The only way to get the mural into the de Young would've been to remove a skylight and lower the sections in the de Young decided that was a little too complicated to do.
Nicole: After moving two giant porcelain ladies. I understand wy he would say. No. So, by [00:27:00] now, you're probably wondering what any of this has to do with the west side of San Francisco. After all, the de Young rejected it, so it didn't come to Golden Gate Park. But here's the thing. So, we mentioned that Timothy Pflueger had brought Rivera to San Francisco to do the mural at Art in Action during GGIE. Check, we're caught up. What we haven't mentioned yet is that the piece was a commissioned work. Though if you remember podcast episode number 440, you know where we're going.
Arnold: That's because it was specifically commissioned by Pflueger, who was going to put it in the Pflueger library that he was going to design for San Francisco Junior College, which we now know as San Francisco City College. This is why the Board of Education was gonna get involved in deciding whether it was an appropriate subject matter. In fact, many of the Art in Action pieces were designated for display at San Francisco Junior College.
Nicole: So now you know that podcast number 440 [00:28:00] detailed some of the other art that ended up at City College, but Pflueger intended Rivera's mural to cover the south wall of the library's reading room. Once it was installed, Rivera was supposed to return to San Francisco to add other murals to the east and west walls.
Arnold: Things are not gonna go as planned, though.
Nicole: No.
Arnold: After the young declined to take Pan American Unity, there was a fire at the Treasure Island Storage Facility in 1941.
Nicole: Poof.
Arnold: Fortunately, the mural was not burnt, but a part of section five was accidentally pierced by a fireman's axe.
Nicole: Yeah.
Arnold: With the military taking control of Treasure Island because of World War II, the Navy wanted to get Pan American Unity out of there.
Nicole: I wonder if it was pierced by an axe next to Dudley Carter chopping things with an axe. Like, you know, I don't think it, well, I, I don't know that it wasn't, but I'm wondering if it [00:29:00] was, cause now I'm very curious. Anyways, in in June, 1942, the crates were moved to a newly constructed storage facility at San Francisco Junior College. Although Rivera told Pflueger that he would repair the damage caused by the fireman's axe and his assistant Emmy Lou Packard inspected the damage, it was not repaired initially with the thought that it would be better to do so once it was installed at the Pflueger Library, unfortunately, after America's entry into World War II, plans to build a library where postponed and suspended indefinitely after Pflueger died on November 20th, 1946.
Arnold: And after many years in storage on the campus, perhaps in no small part because of the McCarthy Era's anticommunist vitriol directed at communists like Diego Rivera…
Nicole: Yeah.
Arnold: …plans are finally made to display Pan American Unity at what now is called San Francisco City College. [00:30:00] Pflueger's younger brother Milton was chosen to design a campus theater.
Nicole: Knowing his older brother's affinity for Rivera's work, Milton asked to expand the theater lobby to accommodate Pan American Unity. The college approved and, in 1961, the mural was finally installed in the newly completed theater. Because Rivera had died in 1957, Pan American Unity was his last work created in the United States. His chief assistant Mary Lou Packard returned to repair the damage caused by the fireman's Axe so many years before. When another of Rivera's assistants Mona Hoffman came to view the mural, she was unable to tell where it had been damaged, which delighted Packard. Thus finally, after more than 20 years, Pan American Unity arrived at its intended home and Arnold, is that where it stayed forever and ever?
Arnold: Of course not. [00:31:00] The mural remained on exhibit in the CCSF theater lobby for the next 50 years. And in fact, I did see it there. It's, the only time I've ever seen it, was in that theater lobby. It was almost moved in 1995 when CCSF opened a new library with a four-story atrium that was designed so that Rivera's work could be placed there. However, fears that it would be damaged led the college to leave it in place at the theater.
Nicole: In 1999, Francesca Peak, a conservator for the Getty Museum, came to inspect the mural. She found it to be an excellent condition, but cautioned Will Maynes a CCSF physics professor, and guardian of the mural, to really think long term about how to protect and display it for the next 200 years. If the globe makes it that long. Maynes spent the next 15 years working on raising money for a better home, raising funds in Mexico [00:32:00] and the US for a Center for Pan-American Unity on campus.
Arnold: And, in 2012, a conceptual design for a new building for the mural was created by architect Jim Diaz. That building has yet to be built, however. In the meantime, Pan American Unity was safely removed from the theater and moved over to SF MoMA in 2021, where it is currently on display in the Roberts Family Gallery. You can see it for free there too.
Nicole: Yeah.
Arnold: It's supposed to be returned to CCSF in 2023, but we are unclear on the status of its new home. Maybe one of our listeners knows. If so, write in. Tell us whether the new home for Pan American Unity is being built or is planned to be built anytime soon.
Nicole: Yeah, I'm not sure if our listeners have been paying attention to what's going on at CCSF, but they're going through some stuff right now and just trying to offer basic classes to everybody who wants to take them. So I feel like maybe this isn't a [00:33:00] priority, but I don't know that. And in the meantime, you can see it at MoMA. It is incredible. They have it in the free entryway. Sort of the back entrance and it's massive. It's been restored while on premises. It was a massive joint project between, I believe, the City of Mexico, MoMA and CCSF. And it really is a site to behold and they've created a really cool pamphlet that explains everything in there. Or fun thing you can do. Take your earbuds with you and just listen to this podcast while you're looking at the mural. And let us know if we did a good enough job. And you can actually follow the panels, what we're saying. Or don't, because people when are critical of me, it's crushing.
Arnold: Or they may get annoyed at it. This pronunciation of certain names.
Nicole: Oh yeah, that's true. Just read it from the pamphlet so [00:34:00] you can mispronounce it yourself in your head. So, Arnold, I think it's time for, Say What Now?
Arnold: Indeed. After Rivera completed Pan American Unity, he stayed in San Francisco for a different reason. Rivera and his former wife, Frida Kahlo, had divorced a little over a year earlier. But, on December 8th, 1940, Rivera's 54th birthday, he and Kahlo got remarried in a small civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. Kahlo was to return their Mexican home two weeks later while Rivera was going to stay in San Francisco for another six months to teach at the California School of Fine Arts. And he was gonna paint three murals that he had been commissioned to do during that time. However, before his wife left, Rivera asked out of the teaching contract because of quote, “a change in his domestic plans.” [00:35:00] His request was granted and he went back to Mexico with his now, remarried wife, Frida Kahlo.
Nicole: Tom Brady, if you're listening to this podcast, you need to follow Diego Rivera's lead and quit your job and go make your wife happy because you, the the, you're nothing without a home, right? So like, get it together, Tom. All right. That, this PSA is over.
Arnold: So I think that's a good point where it will lead us into listener mail.
Nicole: Oh boy. I am now haranguing professional football players on a podcast about local San Francisco history. I guess now we're gonna find out if Tom Brady listens to the podcast or not.
Arnold: Of course he does.
Nicole: Maybe.
Arnold: Because who doesn’t?
Nicole: Maybe he'll send us listener mail. And you know what? How do you send us listener mail? How does Tom Brady send us [00:36:00] listener mail Arnold?
Arnold: Well, he should send an email to podcast@outsidelands.org. I would bet his wife though would probably follow us on social media, on our Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. And she could post a comment there that we could read as listener mail.
Nicole: Yeah. Gisele.
>Arnold: And did we get some listener mail. Nicole?
Nicole: We did. Team Giselle here, by the way. Yeah, so after our recent two part Playland Memories episodes, one of our live guests on those podcasts, Kevin Brady, wrote to add a little more. Says Kevin and I quote:
“Spring Break, 69. Me mates and me hop into a ‘55 Chevy wagon, headed to Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, and in environs. Great rollicking fun at each stop, sunning by day, visiting the beaches, sleeping in the wagon for three days AND THEN IT STARTED TO RAIN.” All [00:37:00] capitals. “We scrapped our scheduled one week stay pointed the ol’ ‘55 north, drove through the pounding rain all the way to Playland, where we dined at the pie shop, staring unhappily out the window at the dark gray weather.”
And scene.
Arnold: Thank you, Kevin . Now I really want to go have pie.
Nicole: Just want, just want pie. I also kinda want clam chowder cause we're talking about the Patriots. Still. We're still talking about the Patriots.
Arnold: Well, if you are a patriot, then you wanna help support us by becoming a member or donating because you get all kinds of perks, like our quarterly membership magazine, discounts and events, and other exclusive perks. And I'm not gonna be able to get through this without cracking up now. [00:38:00] Your membership supports all the great work we do and make available for free, like OpenSFHistory, like this podcast, like the Cliff House Collection, which has been at The Museum at The Cliff all summer and is going to be open one more day, which we're about to get into right now.
Nicole: I've never, I don't, I think that's the first and last time we will refer to WNP members as Patriots, but well done Arnold. Very impressed. So, although The Museum at The Cliff closed last month--I know, big single tear, crocodile tear heading down our cheeks--you will have one more chance to visit the History Gallery and our special exhibition, Naiad Cove, in the former Cliff House restaurant space. We will be open Saturday, October 15th for one last hurrah from 11 to 5:00 PM and in conjunction with MK Think’s Community Day at Edge Fest on Great Highway. [00:39:00] So we opened our doors one last time to be good neighbors. Again, it's free. You can register online in advance, but we won't be turning anyone away. So come down and see us. And what are we doing the next day Arnold?
Arnold: Just like every infomercial ever says, that's not all! Cause we're throwing a bon voyage party on Sunday, October 16th, where you'll get to celebrate Ben Wood's incredible projections one last time and get a last chance, at least for a while, to experience sunset inside the former Cliff House.
Nicole: Yes, and maybe we'll serve you some pie. We also have one more history walk coming up. It's our annual spooky City Cemetery walk in Lincoln Park, led by former Park Service Ranger John Martini. If you've never done this walk before, it's, it's one of my favorites and it's a great way to launch your Halloween celebration. One year we had a dear friend show up dressed as the Zodiac killer, and I will [00:40:00] say, please don't do that, because that is really freaky when you're walking around a foggy cemetery at dusk.
Arnold: But do feel free to show up in costume.
Nicole: Yeah. And also shout out to Randy. That was an awesome costume, but terrifying. So this is on Saturday, October 29th at 5:00 PM. Tickets are $10 for WNP members, and $20 for non-members. Get your ticket today. We are, I think, almost half sold out already. And you know this is a great way to celebrate the fact that this is gonna be one of San Francisco's newest city landmarks. So congratulations, San Francisco Heritage and District Supervisor Connie Chan for making this happen.
Arnold: And you can get your tickets for that and, in fact, for any of our events, by going to our website, Outsidelands.org, and clicking the events link at the top of the page or just typing in outsidelands.org/events, which will take right to that page.
Nicole: You can also follow us on Eventbrite. So as soon as [00:41:00] I publish something on there, you get an email and it's like, ding! Western Neighborhoods Project has a fresh pressed event for you. Easy peasy, right? That's right.
Arnold: So Nicole, do we have a preview for those people who will be turning in, tuning in next week.
Nicole: We sure do. We are interviewing a true adjacent to West Portal original Lloyd Kahn. Thank you for being with us dear listeners. Remember, WNP loves you.
Arnold: That we do. Bye now.
Nicole: Good. Goodnight. Good morning or good afternoon.
Ian: Outside Lands San Francisco is recorded by Ian Hadley. Content creation and media production at ihadley.com.
Nicole: To learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more on San Francisco history, go to Outsidelands.org. You can also find us on social media, at Facebook, which is outsidelands [00:42:00] with an S, at Twitter, which is outsidelands with a Z, and on Instagram, which is outsidelands, also with a z. And check out our historic San Francisco images website at OpenSFHistory.org.

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