Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
The Maynard Dixon Mural Mystery
From Ann Phillips Cooper, Class of 1948:
I believe it was the class of 1927 that commissioned Maynard Dixon to paint a mural that spanned the top of the stage in the original auditorium. When I saw it in the late ’40s, it was impressive. Sometime in the late ’50s the auditorium was altered to accommodate the new library and the high ceiling appropriate to a theater was lowered for a quieter library. The mural disappeared and no one today seems to know it ever existed. It was done in three panels, and if it had been stored carefully, it could easily be worth more than a million dollars today. It is not one of Dixon’s better works, but the artist is growing in favor.
Excerpts from Scribe News articles about the Maynard Dixon Mural in the Auditorium
From The Scribe News, 3/30/27:
Maynard Dixon, a California artist, has started to work on the mural for Tech’s auditorium. Plans for the picture, the theme of which is California, have been approved by the art department… Mr. Dixon, in his first works, specialized in Indian and cowboy themes, but lately has taken a great interest in Spanish influences in California… This picture has been made possible by several graduating classes who have contributed money for this painting as their senior gift. The mural is a $2,000 work, but Mr. Dixon has consented to do it for the sum of $1500.
From The Scribe News, 8/17/27:
During the summer vacation Tech’s auditorium was entirely renovated and the mural painting finished… The picture is intended to suggest the early California history. The sun represents the sunny California with its gold. The grizzly bear shows California unspoiled by the white civilization. The woman’s figure in the center portrays the ‘spirit of hospitality,’ or the spirit of ‘westward ho,’ welcoming the incoming settlers. The Spanish explorers, Spanish priests, and the Spanish dons and senoritas show the early settlement of the Spaniards in California. The fur trader, the miner, and the trapper typify the pioneers from the East, settling in California. The Indians shown throughout the picture represent the first tillers of the soil. The gold rush is represented by the early adventurer or gambler. The Chinaman is shown as laborer in the mines or in the culture of the floral business. This painting was presented to Tech by the graduating classes of the last five or six years.