– Instead of controversy, Gavilan College’s
mural is now surrounded by art, professors and students, and
$15,000 of high-tech equipment.
GILROY – Instead of controversy, Gavilan College’s “Enduring Wage” mural is now surrounded by art, professors and students, and $15,000 of high-tech equipment.
Art Lecture Hall 101, a classroom the school admits had become little more than a holding area for old teaching materials and outdated technology, was christened Thursday as Gavilan’s new Expressive Arts Center. The center, which will continue to house courses such as art history and music appreciation, now features the 14-foot-high by 48-foot-wide mural on the front wall of the classroom. Elsewhere in the hall, paintings and sculptures by teachers and students will be displayed on a rotating basis.
“I think it’s beautiful. It has a profound message and I’ve always loved murals,” Gavilan student Phillip Hermosillo said of the hotly debated mural. “This college has an amazing art department so it’s good to see their work displayed.”
Other prominent features of the room include the wood sculpture desk and chair set made by Gavilan music teacher Art Juncker. The set will remain permanently in the room to serve the practical purpose of a lecture podium.
“It’s a beautiful piece of art that will be the crown of the room,” said Fran Lozano, the school’s dean of liberal arts.
Colorful oil paintings created at a recent creativity festival held at the school hang permanently on the side walls. The other Juncker wood sculptures placed in the room Thursday will eventually be loaned out to faculty and staff to display in their offices and classrooms. Other artworks produced by Gavilan students and staff will decorate the lecture hall on a rotating basis.
As for the mural, it was originally destined to hang permanently in the Student Center at Gavilan, but some students opposed that decision on the basis of the mural’s content.
Among more benign images, “Enduring Wage” depicts upper-class individuals sitting on toilets and defecating on huddled masses. The umbrella intention behind the artwork was to portray the economic view of the minimum wage earner looking up the ladder of success, its creators have stated.
Not everyone saw it that way.
Jack in the Box Inc. threatened to sue Gavilan if the image of its large-headed mascot was not removed from the controversial mural. All references to the fast food restaurant were removed from the mural.
The controversy didn’t phase Hermosillo’s interpretation of the mural Thursday as faculty and students celebrated the classroom renovations.
“Just about anything can be looked at and you can get something bad out of it. It all depends on how you look at something,” Hermosillo said.
Gavilan received $15,000 of federal money to upgrade the multimedia equipment in Art Lecture Hall 101. While the upgrade won’t necessarily bring new courses to the Expressive Arts Center, the room now can more effectively hold music performances, one-act plays, art shows, poetry slams and other avenues for expression.
The high tech additions to the room include a retractable movie screen, a projector with a remote control and a special lens for large classrooms, a CD/cassette player, a secured storage cage and an audio/visual control panel.