City Lies While Attempting Hostile Takeover of Library

Odds are that the Fullerton City Council will vote tonight to fire the Library Board and replace it with themselves in a cynical attempt to steal property to offset some Police & Fire Pensions. Fitzgerald wants to do it, Chaffee wants to do it and it likely won’t take much effort to convince Silva to do it.

Why? Because the city needs to pad the budget to fill holes left by Public Safety Pensions and totally predictable but avoided CALPers issues.

Thus the City is planning, under Ken Domer’s guidance, to take property donated to the library to plug General Fund budget holes.

Donated. As in stealing charity. Love Fullerton, indeed.

This is the brainchild of Councilwoman Fitzgerald despite her original campaign rhetoric about libraries being a “core service”. I guess we can just add this to the long list of lies Jennifer Fitzgerald said to get elected. We’ll put this one right up there with her promise not to take a salary and to desire to implement zero based budgeting.

Oops.  Fooled you!



Bomb Threat

The Hunt Branch of the Fullerton Library was quietly evacuated yesterday afternoon as staff told patrons they “weren’t allowed to say” why the library was suddenly closing. Whispers of a bomb threat were heard on the way towards the exit.

The homeless clean up team.

Cops and a city crew were still on the scene today, apparently cleaning out a small homeless encampment on the library grounds. A librarian confirmed that there was in fact some sort of bomb threat that caused the library to close yesterday. For some reason the library’s computer system was offline, too.

Is any of this related to anything? Who knows.

Give It Back. Now.

We received an e-mail the other day from a Friend calling herself “Lady Artist.” It was a good letter and it made some excellent points so we agreed to publish it.

Didn't they put a moustache on the Mona Lisa?

The City of Fullerton has proven to be a faithless custodian of a modern architectural gem. I have come to the conclusion that the best fate of the building that has come to be known as the Hunt Branch Library is to give it back to the Norton Simon Foundation or, at least to someone who will appreciate it.

William Pereira designed this building in concert with a larger, integrated development; a site plan that included the Hunt Administration Building and coordinated landscape that included a reflecting pool and “floating”  concrete slabs and steps. Over the years the property has been partitioned by a fence, the reflecting pool filled in by its new owners, with new and comically bad architecture burdening the site. Perhaps most insulting of all, the City has put a “bark park” on the grounds next to the library.

A bark park. Great for dogs, insulting for a work of art. Unless by art you mean a group of dogs playing poker.

In the eyes of the beholder...
Fullertonians may not know art, but they know what they like.

I believe that almost anybody would be  a more reliable guardian of this building than the City has shown itself to be. The homeless people who camp out under the extended roof seem to appreciate it more than the City does.

I also believe the present location for a branch library couldn’t be worse. It is not well known, and frankly, I question the number of users claimed by the Library itself in its annual counts. Why continue to fund a branch library at this near-hidden location when neither north nor east Fullerton have branch libraries at all; not to mention that the existence of the Hunt Branch would probably come as a complete surprise to most west Fullerton denizens? But these are separate issues in themselves, and I digress.

For years I’ve heard all this weeping and wailing about how Fullerton could have had the Norton Simon Museum. Why mourn that? Fullerton doesn’t deserve it. Never did. The inescapable evidence is on display at the Hunt Branch every day of the year. 

Let’s give it back to Norton Simon, with our thanks; and our apologies for not recognizing the architectural legacy that he gave us.

Thank you, Lady Artist, for a thought-provoking piece.

Barbara Giasone Puff Piece Ignores Historic Resource

We really like architecture like this...
We really like architecture like this...

We are finally getting around to writing about an item our dear, squishy-soft Barbara Giasone scribbled out last week about the Grace Ministries sanctuary – a god-awful looking, overbearing monstrosity click here to enjoy Barbara’s pabulum . In her journalistic valentine, Babs passed along the grandiosity of the church (larger than Crystal Cathedral, oh joy!) but omitted mention that the Administration Building and “the gardens” were designed by world-famous architect William Pereira and are part of a larger original complex that includes the Hunt Library and the hideous “bark park” (more on that in another post!).

It’s not that we expect Giasone to know or even care about such things, but we really want to heighten Fullertonians’ awareness of this amazing architectural resource in their midst. The City has done very little to protect this resource as they handed out entitlements to the massive church that, we assume, pays no property tax. The filled-in reflecting pond is pretty symbolic of the disregard to this complex; the City’s bark park adds insult to injury.

Everything must go!
Fullerton Fire Sale: Everything must go!

Just Wondering: Covenant Of The Lost Art

Guggenheim Productions
Industrialist Norton Simon

Update: Please check recommended reading list based on what’s come up in the comments at: Of Interest.

As long as we’re going down the hallways of myopic design and architecture in our fair city, there is a bigger but forgotten side story that bears remembering. After all, a loss this big should never have happened.

Since almost 40 years have passed, the story bears repeating for those who were too young, and others who are new to the city.

When one sees the Hunt Library through the eyes of an architectural aficionado, one can’t help but be stunned. How did this building get here? Along with the now shuttered and desecrated Hunt Foods, it was part of an overall design by nationally renown architect William Pereira. Pereira, an architect and designer of office buildings (The TransAmerica Building), museums, university campuses (UCSD) and entire cities (the Irvine Masterplan) designed the now forlorn library. Why was this here? How? The old Hunt Foods was shuttered –a victim of an economic move out of state.  I requested the records from the city clerk and read how this building came into being. In addition, I revisited my salad-days haunt in Pasadena, watched a movie, and read the only biography of Norton Simon. (Later, the book & movie were donated to the Hunt Library).

The TransAmerican BuildingAt one point, the Hunt Library was part of the campus of Hunt Foods, owned by an entrepreneur and industrialist Norton Simon. In 1927, he and his family purchased an old orange juice bottling company in Fullerton. Over the years, they added more produce and vegetables and most notably proceeded to turn tomato sauce and ketchup into gold.

He became rich –so rich that he bought other companies. He also collected art. Loads of it. Art was on the walls of his home, in the Hunt offices and in the Periera-designed library next door. He shared his art with school children. It has been hailed as the most significant private art collections in the world. In it are collections of the Impressionists, Old Masters, Flemish, Baroque, East Indian, and Asian artifacts —his curiosity about the world was answered by art.

By 1974, he wanted to find a home for his collection.

The rest of the story and the sad conclusion may be seen in the video below.

Simon died in 1993.

Just Wondering: What else would have developed along the industrial corridors where the museum would have gone? What impact would a deeper appreciation for culture and art have on the values of a community? How would having a world class collection of art supported smaller venues such as The Muckenthaler, The Fullerton Art Museum, and even those things budgeted under community services? What effect might this have had on future building projects? What can we learn from this, and is there a place in our city for an aesthetic shaped by a deep understanding of art and culture in a time when bigger, cheaper, homogeneous and beige is deemed more reasonable?

At a time when sweeping changes are being proposed,  when city services are being cut, and when we can point to regrettable changes in our downtown landscape, it’s time to see the relationship between how we make choices to live as well as art and design.

“Art is the signature of civilizations.” –Opera Singer Beverly Sills