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    News / Photo Album

    Past Is Prologue As Craftsman District Mural Comes To Life @ Orange Ave/7th St.

    (March 17, 2007) -- Muralist Art Mortimer (foreground with hat), volunteers and city staffers gathered at Orange Ave./7th St. as part of a continuing project (additional volunteer dates scheduled, see below) to bring a future landmark to life: a mural depicting landmarks of LB's Craftsman district.

    The Craftsman District was once marked by an abundance of sturdy, early 20th century bungalows...many of which remain despite early-mid 1980s City Council actions that invited speculators to buy the bungalows, destroy them and construct multi-unit apartments ("crackerboxes") on the lots. City Hall's actions, which were strongly opposed at the time by neighborhood activists, were supported by developers, then-city management and much of LB's establishment. The result is now generally regarded as a self-inflicted wound that destroyed a LB asset and bequeathed negative impacts from increased density to the immediate area and citywide.

    Since then, residents and taxpayers have spent volunteer time and public money to overcome the damages done. The Craftsman Village Mural Project, funded by taxpayers through LB's Neighborhood Services Bureau & Dept. of Parks, Recd & Marine, highlights the neighborhood's history and still remaining assets.

    Muralist Art Mortimer, who created the Veterans mural (funded by LB's Redevelopment Agency) at the southern gateway to NLB's Houghton Park, used a similar technique in the Craftsman mural, basing his work on real photographs and local history.

    Among the mural's images is a decades-old photo of a neighborhood family whose then-kids included Dennis Thys...who today (blue shifted in photo, right) is Manager of City Hall's Neighborhood Services Bureau. Mr. Thys was among the volunteers getting a cup of paint (not java). was on-scene for the March 10 painting session seen in photos on this page...and former neighborhood resident Thys highlighted some of the neighborhood assets highlighted on the mural. These include nearby Toledo Walk (not to be confused with The Toledo in Naples). Toledo Walk is just that, a walk -- a sidewalk and lamps but not a street for cars -- an amenity built nearly a century ago to permit residents to enjoy a quiet evening stroll.

    Also among the mural volunteers (seen signing-in) was Katrina Reynolds from Mayor Foster's office.

    The Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Marine, through its Community Recreation Services "Leading Youth Through Positive Play" program, has scheduled additional teen volunteer dates for March 21 & 23 (2-5 p.m.) and Saturday March 24 (9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.) Further info is available from Jose Loza or Heather Green at (562) 570-1786.

    The Craftsman mural is tentatively scheduled for completion in April. Works by muralist Art Mortimer now grace much of LB...including north of Cesar Chavez Park and in Cal. Hts. on Orange Avenue.

    And a political footnote: Fallout from Council's 1980's infamous "crackerbox" decision includes the 1992 election of then CSULB professor and then-leftish LBACI activist Alan Lowenthal to the 2nd district City Council seat. Lowenthal was elected after sandpapering the incumbent on the crackerbox issue. He's since ascended to Sacramento while his former wife Bonnie and daughter in law Suja are now on the City Council.

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