Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Art graces a public library, where all may come to enjoy the artworks freely as they use the library for a host of purposes. Being surrounded by art brings these pieces into close contact with  our everyday world. This not only adds culture to our endeavors as adults, but puts youth in regular contact with art as well. While some people may come to the Coronado Library just to tour the building, the art does not need a dedicated visit to be seen - it is part of the Library's host of services. Over the decades the Coronado Library has been given, or has acquired several notable pieces of art. These include the Donal Hord sculpture of The Mourning Woman, the Donal Hord-designed tapestry The Fruits of the Earth, the "Village Church" pastel by Alfredo Ramos Martinez,  the War Hounds watercolor by Arthur Beaumont, the "Hotel del Coronado Boathouse" by Monty Lewis, the "Wizard of Oz" glass portal, and several others. None of these is more famous or more artistically significant, however, than the murals painted by Alfredo Ramos Martinez for the La Avenida Cafe.

The 48 feet long El Dia del Mercado mural by Alfredo Ramos Martinez

The fresco mural El Dia del Mercado (Market Day) is a major work of art by one of the preeminent Mexican artists of the 20th century. Ramos Martinez spent many years studying art in Paris at the turn of the last century, in the company of artists such as Picasso, Matisse, and Braque. He then became director of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City, where he launched a national "open air" art education program that counted Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo among its students. He was proficient in several styles of painting but ultimately rejected these in favor of an indigenous style that reflected the rural scenes of his native Mexico.

Alfredo Ramos Martinez was commissioned to paint the fresco murals for the La Avenida Cafe in 1938. He was already 74 years old, having come to the United States seeking intensive medical care for his young daughter. Ramos Martinez painted five murals at the La Avenida Cafe in different rooms. Three of the murals survived, and the story of how two of them were saved, moved, acquired, restored, and installed at the Coronado Library is more fully  told in The Story of the Ramos Martinez Murals 

The Canasta de Flores mural

In brief, the murals were painted on plaster that were part of several walls in the restaurant. After the restaurant closed the walls were slated to be torn down. At the 11th hour the three surviving murals were removed in sections from the restaurant and ultimately separated for various reasons. The largest mural, the 48ft. long  El Dia del Mercado was first offered to the Coronado Library, but due to a lack of space to mount it, was donated to the City for future use. One large mural was sold. Years previously, the smaller mural had been wallpapered over, and was only found by accident by new La Avenida owner Gus Theberge. This mural, the still life Canasta de Flores, was also put up for sale after significant restoration by Nathan Zakheim. After securing the El Dia del Mercado mural, the Coronado Library used a bequest from June Muller to fund its extensive restoration.

As part of the Coronado Library building expansion and renovation planning, the installation of the El Dia del Mercado was given primary consideration. Separately, the Canasta de Flores mural was up for sale in Los Angeles and was on the verge of being lost to Coronado. The Friends of the Coronado Library came to the rescue and made a significant investment by buying the mural for installation in the remodelled library. The story of these combined projects can be told in the following pictures:

The Alfredo Ramos Martinez murals at the Coronado Public Library are a rich legacy of Coronado's past. They have found a permanent home thanks to the dedicated support of many people who made the current Library building possible, where they anchor many other fine works of art. 

The City of Coronado has launched a new Cultural Arts Commission. That Commission will liaison with the Coronado Library as it establishes its mission and develops its programs and activities. We look forward to more opportunities for art to flourish in Coronado, and to enrich the surroundings and programs of the Coronado Public Library.

Monday, November 14, 2011


The recent National Citizen Survey conducted of Coronado residents was very positive about how highly Coronadans view their city and its services. These results have already been reported in the media. Nonetheless, we would like to brag a bit about how the Coronado Library fared, since this information could be overlooked amidst the many other statistics. The public's opinions about the Coronado Public Library rank it among the very top city libraries surveyed across the nation. Consider these opinions and findings provided by Coronado survey respondents:

* 98% of respondents considered public library services good or excellent, and of those, 74% considered library services excellent.

* The 98% "excellent or good" rating for the Coronado Library placed it the second highest (Number 2) of the 245 cities included in the National Benchmark.

* The Coronado Library ranked the highest (Number 1) of the 31 cities in the "resort city" National Benchmark.

* The Coronado Library  has been used "much more" than the national comparison benchmark, ranking Number 27 among the 177 benchmark cities.

We are very fortunate to have many positive factors working for us at the Coronado Public Library. We have tremendous community support, a dedicated staff and volunteers, vital financial support from the Friends of the Library and private donors, the dedication of the Library Board of Trustees, and the support of the Mayor and City Council. Thank you all.


This question pops up in the media and in conversations. Sometimes the assumption is that they don't matter - that libraries have been replaced by the vastness of the Internet and the immediacy of social media. From our point of view, and in seeing how libraries are used, we see things differently. Yesterday or today, public libraries are a public good. They are one of the anchors of a viable community. This debate has actually been around for the last 15 years - but still people come, and they still find something very special and very unique about their public libraries. One reason is that the people who work in libraries are committed to them, and are committed to helping the people that come through the library's doors. Today, the personal service found here is far more endangered than libraries. Where else will you find someone to help you navigate not only the library's collection, but the world wide web itself? The library is a portal. It is not just a library goal that we hold the best thinking of the best minds from centuries of knowledge on our shelves. Today we extend the reach and the grasp of that knowledge through our electronic connectedness to vast resources scattered around the world. Such knowledge and information may be in print or it may be in electrons. The point is that we are here to help you navigate the path to find it. And digitization not only takes us far and wide - it helps us explore, preserve, and disseminate our own local and community heritage. Libraries will become more and more relevant because of these factors.

So a public library is used for its friendly staff and its organized collection and and for providing access to knowledge and library materials freely. At the Coronado Public Library, we also offer a range of special cultural programs such as lectures, concerts, film showings and exhibitions. We offer story times for toddlers and pre-schoolers, crafts and reading programs for teens and tweens, Summer Reading Programs for youth, unique events like the Mother-Daughter Tea, Harry Potter Day, and Winnie-the-Pooh Birthday Party. We hold a Summer Festival of programs, and host the Holiday Store Front Animated Window. We celebrate the centennial of Naval Aviation. We are graced with a beautiful building that generations have helped to develop. We have art - some of it like the Ramos Martinez murals - is world-class. We believe that the Coronado Library building and its interior  furnishings and fixtures should attract people, and it does. Here you can have free wireless access, you can read or study at a well-lit table in a quiet area, you can study alone or in groups after-school, you can come with your family for a program, or you can come by yourself and enrich your mind. As long as today matters, as well as yesterday and tomorrow, the public library should be here to help make things better.

Christian Esquevin, Director

The Coronado Library: a path to your potential.

The Alfredo Ramos Martinez mural at the Coronado Public Library