Historic Bicentennial Mural On The Side Of A Dam To Be Restored



  • The other day, a mural bigger than 6 Mt. Rushmores painted on the spillway of a dam in 1976 was reported to be approved for restoration. They say that highly visible Freedom Bicentennial Mural is  set to begin next week. Given all the “noise” and political foolery... we’ll see… 

    The man in charge named Scott M. Haskins, art conservator as heading up the actual work on the  project, and the Army Corps of Engineers had said they wouldn't green light the restoration work unless his renown company, FACL was engaged. But as of yet, they have yet to communicate with  Mr. Haskins. The mural’s original creator in 1976, Ron Kammeyer, and the attorneys battling to  protect it, confirm that they’ve only received smiles, congratulations, and handshakes but will the  original mural actually be preserved?. 

    Mr. Kammeyer thinks bureaucrats are in charge and may move forward without consulting Mr.  Haskins. It has been was crucial to maintain this symbol of freedom and patriotism from the 1976's  Bicentennial... even if its repainted to match the original. 

    Patriotic mural restoration begins near Corona's Prado Dam 

    The home of the mural, the Prado Dam near the 91 Freeway is 120-foot-tall, 664-foot-long. Its o  ersight is a complicated matter: The US Army Corps of Engineers oversees the Prado Dam, a water control spillway built before World War II in 1941. Riverside is responsible for the dam's water supply, and Corona maintains the area's vegetation and landscape. Five communities in Orange 

    County and the Inland Empire with 7 million inhabitants feel ownership over the artwork. Their  elected leaders have weighed in on whether to sandblast the mural to preserve it. Its been a mess to  get the restoration approved. The Visual Artists Rights Act (V.A.R.A.) has been discussed, but  whether it was a wise political move and if the local public favored its preservation or sandblasting it  has taken time to work itself into a frenzy…  

    But all indications are that the general public is very much behind saving the patriotic message. Even  though the third of a million drivers a day on the 91 Freeway see the fading liberty bell and graffiti covered 13 stars, the message of “Freedom” nonetheless inspires patriotism. Its been a positive vibe  in the surrounding communities ever since the Corona High School students painted the red, white,  and blue mural in 1976 to celebrate America's Bicentennial. 

    Kammeyer, one of the mural's original designers and artists, recalls a meeting he had with then President Gerald Ford, who agreed that the painting should be preserved. It's the largest patriotic  mural in America, says the landscape architect. 

    Scott M. Haskins, Art Conservator, Expert Witness and legal consultant

    Kammeyer and the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy sued the Army Corps of Engineers in May 2015  to avoid sandblasting. A federal judge imposed a temporary injunction banning the Corps from  changing or destroying the artwork at that time. U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal removed the  order in April. Concerned mural  Mural restoration preservation enthusiasts have hired Fine Art Conservation  Laboratories and Scott M. Haskins to be the expert consultant for the side looking to restore the  artwork. Corps spokeswoman Dena O'Dell said the judge's decision means the federal agency "may  remove and abate the mural's lead-based paint. Riverside County's flood management department  is committed to repairing the mural with federal and local partners "Brooke Federico, county  spokeswoman. Mural supporters signed an agreement and discussed a restoration strategy and  timeframe with federal and county officials. Orange County Water District, Riverside County Flood  Control and Water Conservation District, and Friends of the Prado Dam Mural assisted Rep. Ken  Calvert (R-Corona) collect $2.5 million to remove paint and vandalism and begin repair. 

    Calvert, who had called the artwork "more graffiti than mural" and "terrible," defended it on August  30. He called it a "Historic treasure and local asset." "The desire to restore the painting to its  previous condition unites individuals across the political spectrum," said Calvert, who is "thrilled" to  have helped to its restoration. 

    Kammeyer amassed hundreds of messages in favor of preserving the art, he said in an interview.  “I've promised our president 20 years ago." Kammeyer said. Rumor is that he mural will be  "repaired" by July 4, 2023. Five local councils have signed resolutions "in favor of returning the  artwork to its former beauty," says Peter Usle of Friends of the Prado Dam Artwork. Corona,  Eastvale, Norco, Chino, Chino Hills. This national monument has no conspicuous faces and is  considered a work of art. 

    "It's so engrossing that it physically impacts you. Locals often say, "When I see that mural, I know I'm  home" Hopefully, its 1976 Bicentennial message also continues to ring loudly and proudly far into  the future for the millions that drive by weekly. 

    At a size of 120-foot-tall, 664-foot-long, its bigger than 6 Mt. Rushmores 

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