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YORBA LINDA : Restored Mural to Set Library Scene

September 12, 1992|DANIELLE A. FOUQUETTE

After having spent the past two years in a storage facility, a mural depicting the founder of Yorba Linda is being restored and will be returned to a place of honor in the city's recently expanded library.

The 18-by-8-foot mural, painted in 1959, hung for years behind the library checkout desk. It was commissioned by the Yorba Linda family of Robin Paul, a young girl who was killed in a car accident in 1958.

When the project to enlarge the library was begun two years ago, the mural was removed. The artwork, painted on canvas and mounted on plywood, was cut into several sections, folded and stored in a warehouse.

Earlier this year, the mural was remounted onto a wall in the library's new community room. Restoration artist Sylvia Graske said that when she was hired to restore the work, she discovered that it was covered with grime and had a number of scuff marks along the lower portion.

But with a solution of turpentine and denatured alcohol, Graske and two assistants removed the scuff marks and grime.

In places where the paint had cracked and peeled away, Graske applied a mixture of chalk and oil to create a smooth surface for repainting.

Graske is now ready to apply a varnish that will enhance the original colors of the mural, making it easier for her to match new paint to old.

Residents will have a chance to see the progress she has made at a library dedication program at 9:30 a.m. today. County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez, state Sen. John R. Lewis (R-Orange), Assemblyman Mickey Conroy (R-Santa Ana) and city officials will be on hand.

In restoring another artist's artwork, Graske said, she does not use her own style but rather tries to match that of the original.

"It's important as a restoration that most people who see the mural won't know it has been restored," Graske said.

Matching the style of original artist Allan Hall will be easier than matching the colors he used, Graske said, because after more than 30 years, pigments fade and change. Hall's subtle shading technique will compound the challenge, she said.

Fortunately for Graske, Hall is available to answer her questions. Hall, now 65, was a Yorba Linda resident when he painted the mural, and he now lives in Fullerton, where he works as a commercial artist.

Images in the mural represent important periods in the city's history. Two conquistadors on horseback, for example, are meant to represent Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola and Jose Antonio Yorba, a member of his expedition.

For his role, Yorba was given a Spanish land grant for much of the land that is now Yorba Linda. One of his descendants, Bernardo Yorba, is depicted standing in front of a rendering of the family's rancho.

Former President Richard M. Nixon, a native of the city, is referred to in the outline of the dome of the Capitol.

Watching Graske's efforts to restore the mural has been rewarding, Hall said. "It's good to know more people will have the chance to see it, and that (Robin Paul's) memory will live on," he said.

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