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Murals Tell City's History : Works of art in San Fernando are the path to understanding and learning more about the area's heritage, past and people.

3-HOUR TOUR

September 10, 1993|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for The Times. and

The city of San Fernando is the oldest town in the San Fernando Valley. It was first marked in September of 1874 when state Sen. Charles Maclay recorded his subdivision map of 1,000 acres with the county recorder in Los Angeles.

On the northwest corner of Maclay Avenue and Pico Street stands the oldest building in the city, La Casa de Geronimo y Catalina Lopez, or Lopez adobe for short, which is 110 years old. Operated by the San Fernando Historical and Cultural Art Commission, the house is registered as a national historical site.

Filled with information about and artifacts from early San Fernando Valley history, the house is a good jumping-off point to start a walking tour of the colorful and informative murals in the city. Brightening neighborhoods since the 1930s, there are now more than 1,500 murals around Southern California.

The murals in San Fernando, painted within the past 15 years, reflect the Latin American heritage of the people who live in the area. Wear your walking shoes, and bring along some water.

1 p.m.: The Lopez adobe is only open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. Built with 24-inch by 6-inch sun-baked blocks, the original two-story adobe incorporates the Victorian structural design of the 1880s.

1:30 p.m.: Take Maclay three blocks southwest to the corner of Maclay and Hewitt Street. There you'll find the Royal Natural Foods International Bakery, where you can try Mexican breads and pastries.

2 p.m.: From the bakery, continue walking in the same direction three more blocks to Mott Street. On Mott, walk one block north to San Fernando Mission Boulevard. Turn left and you'll come upon the 1992 mural, "Educate Yourself," by Jose de la Cruz and several fifth- and sixth-graders who attended the school where the mural is--San Fernando Elementary. The powerful painting is a tribute to Father Miguel Hidalgo and his leadership in Mexican Independence.

2:15 p.m.: Continue in the same direction for one more block to Woodworth Street. Go north one block to Kalisher Street. On your left you'll see the mural, "Mi Raza Es Mi Orgullo" (My People Are My Pride). This early-1980s mural on Chacon's Barber Shop, painted by Juan Pueblo, Donna Reyes, George Duarte and many assistants, asks people of the community to unite rather than fight. The central figure is the last Aztec king, Cuauhtemoc.

2:30 p.m.: Turn right and go one block on Kalisher back to Mott. There is the portrait, perhaps unfinished, of an intriguing woman by Ramon Cisneros.

Walk two blocks in the same direction to Kewen Street. Make a right onto Kewen to find "Graffiti: The Wild Seed of Mural Art," a 1984 mural by Victor Caceres, Juan Pueblo and local youths. It was painted on the Latin American Civic Assn.'s Head Start/State Preschool. Using Mayan, Aztec, Toltec and other symbols, it pays homage to the power of graffiti.

2:45 p.m.: Continue in the same direction on Kalisher three blocks to Coronel Street. A Latin American Civic Assn. classroom shows an offering of the fruits of labor--in this image, corn--to the gods.

3 to 4 p.m.: Go back one block on Kalisher to Hollister Street. Go north on Hollister for two long blocks until you reach Las Palmas Park. There the 1980 mural "Roots and Destiny," by Juan Pueblo and more than two dozen youths, runs along 13 segments of the park's back wall. Images from Mayan, Toltec, Inca and Aztec cultures have been mixed with allegorical tales in English and Spanish.

Take Hollister back to San Fernando Mission Road. There, you'll find Sierra's, a Mexican restaurant that's been in San Fernando for more than 50 years.

Finally, drive by Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Fox Street, the site of San Fernando High and the 1991 mural, "Tigers Stalking Their Prey," by Manuel Velazquez and students of the 1990 graduating class. The tiger is the school's mascot.

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