site: Corner Main & Davis Streets
Ray & Brenda Padgett bldg.
area of mural for detail
Santa Paula Citrus Capital of the World
This mural highlighted a 60-year span (1880-1940) of the citrus industry in Santa Paula. The first scene, 1900, shows Japanese,
Anglo and Hispanic field workers harvesting lemons. The second shows Nathan Blanchard, founder of Santa Paula and his
packinghouse. The third pays tribute to all Latino pickers who have harvested citrus over the years. The fourth, 1940s, shows
the significant role of women in packinghouses, including women whose families fled the terrible dustbowl conditions sweeping
through the mid-west in the late 1930s.
Don Gray, muralist and assisted by Jared Gray, Don's son
Don Gray's earliest inspirations came from the landscape of his
childhood in rural northeast Oregon. He studied art at Eastern
Oregon University, training his eye and hand in traditional
techniques that resulted in meticulously rendered realist paintings.
After graduation in 1970, Gray taught high school art for one year,
before beginning a professional art career. He exhibited widely in
the Pacific Northwest, developing a regional following for his
landscapes and figures. In 1978 Gray formed a partnership, Bear
Wallow Publishing, with writer Rick Steber and photographer Jerry
Gildemeister. Their co-creations were coffee-table style illustrated
books of western history. Traces, published in 1980,
documented the last surviving travelers of the Oregon Trail.
In the mid-1980s, Don Gray's realist style began to change as he
experimented with a more spontaneous approach. His current work
combines the traditional with a more contemporary idiom, as exterior
observation gives way to interior search. Gray describes this
process as "like a random walk in the woods, with no idea where it
might lead. Along the way, free association and unexpected
discoveries are encouraged. The paintings become artifacts of an
intuitive process, not literal representations of pre-determined
ideas or images."
Don Gray has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the
United States. He has also taught occasional workshops and
college-level courses, painted indoor and outdoor murals in several
states, and illustrated over twenty books. He and his wife Brenda
live in Murrieta, California.
Visit the artist's website at www.dongraymurals.com