Red Car Mural
In 2011 Rotarian Dennis Kneier and David Saldana (then the City’s Building and Planning Director) had preliminary discussions about the possibility of public art in San Marino. After considering several possibilities, they thought a mural on the wall on the building east of City Hall and the Fire Station had promise.
At a Chamber of Commerce Mixer at Diana Dee’s about a month later, Kneier introduced himself to a visitor and asked about his line of work. This gentleman’s name was Brian Kenyon, and he was a “muralist.” You can’t make up a coincidence like that.
Saldana, Kneier and Kenyon had a number of discussions about the type of mural, and a depiction of a Red Car was settled upon. The trio researched books on Red Cars and found a couple of railroad enthusiasts to act as consultants. The consultants were helpful in recommending the correct type of Pacific Electric Red Car, the specific model that would have traveled the Huntington Drive route. And an old photograph of the San Marino Station was located. The idea was for the mural to show a Red Car approaching the San Marino Station.
The process to bring the mural to completion was long. A specific design had to be drawn, an agreement entered into between the Rotary Club of San Marino and the artist (Brian Kenyon) and the execution of a Mural Agreement with the owner of the building at 2260 Huntington Drive. These agreements were approved by the Rotary Board and signed by Isaac Hung, Club President. Finally, necessary approvals were obtained from the Design Review Committee and the City of San Marino.
The mural was completed in early 2013, during the Centennial Year of the founding of the City. Rotary Charities used funds provided by the San Marino Motor Classic to pay the entire cost of the mural, plaque and related expenses. Rotary Charities also provided for an initial maintenance fund which would be available should the mural need work in the future. Total expenditures were $7,500. After completion of the mural, the City installed lighting for night illumination.
A few months later, Kneier asked an art consultant for an opinion of the project. It got a glowing review, but the consultant thought the project was incomplete in that the wall was not completely covered.
A Phase II project to paint a more detailed station scene on the panel to the left of the original mural was undertaken. Luckily – and with appreciation – the Chinese Club of San Marino agreed to fund this part of the project. Again, a design was agreed upon, a contract was entered into with Brian Kenyon, a follow-on agreement was signed with the owner of the building, and approvals were obtained from the DRC and the City. In partnership with the Chinese Club, the Rotary Club was involved with this Phase of the project, and necessary agreements were signed by the succeeding Club President, Peter Corzo. The Phase II was completed in the spring of 2014.
To this day the mural is a much-appreciated and admired work of art in the City of San Marino. It is a tribute to the vision of one of the City’s founders, Henry Edwards Huntington, whose Pacific Electric Red Car system was an important factor in the growth and development of Southern California.