PAUL JULIAN MURAL

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Our Lost Hollywood Animator Mural series continues with this beauty (above) painted by Paul Julian.Reader Terry Guy passes along this picture and information:

The recent Cartoon Brew posts about murals reminded me of this one, which is not so cartoony, but is the work of Warner Brothers cartoons background painter/Roadrunner voice artist Paul Julian.It may be seen in the Post Office at 202 E. Commonwealth Avenue in Fullerton, CA, close by the Amtrak station. When I was there about a year ago (when I took the accompanying picture), a document was posted on the wall below the mural (on the other side of the door from the Wanted poster), with the following text:INFORMATION ON THE POST OFFICE MURAL
The noted California painter Paul Julian painted the large mural on display in the old Fullerton post office. Julian was born in 1914 in Santa Barbara, California. He trained with Millard Sheets and Lawrence T. Murphy at the Chouinard Art Insititute. The mural was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA program began in 1933 at the suggestion of George Biddle, an artist who had studied with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Biddle persuaded President Franklin Roosevelt to institute a program similar to one the Mexican government created, to decorate government buildings. This effort sparked an artistic revolution. The program provided needy artists with work and money. This also offered artists a range of creative options, from small paintings to large murals.
This mural depicts life in Fullerton in the mid-thirties. Fullerton High students picking Valencia oranges, oil derricks, and the Fullerton airport. The artistic license taken by Paul Julian has created some controversy because the ladder shown, a three-legged type, is not the right type for picking oranges, and oranges were never packed in boxes in the field. They would have been placed into a large over the shoulder bag while being picked and then carried to the boxes, and commingled with the others.
The idea that artistic license over orange crates and ladders is controversial seems incongruous today, when we know that the term “controversy” really should be reserved for issues of great magnitude, such as Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “wardrobe malfunction”. On the other hand, this was Fullerton in the thirties, and they took their oranges seriously.


  • Gordon McClelland

    Just read the article about the Paul Julian mural. Recently went to see it in Fullerton. Your article is informative and you got a great shot of the mural…but I don’t understand the “controversy” part. I picked oranges for Villa Park Orchards and worked in several more orange packing houses. The three leg ladder was most certainly used in California orange picking, as the trees are often way to thick to insert a four legged ladder between the tree limbs. As for the boxes. It’s true that in large citrus operations the oranges went into bags, then into field boxes and then to the packing house for grading and re-boxing. But, early in the industry (pre 1890) oranges were usually packed just as he depicted in the mural. Photographs and drawings in history books clearly show this. Also this type of picking and packing ungraded fruit in the field continued all the way through and continues today, with very small operations where the fruit gets sold locally.
    Anyway, just a little more information which may or may not be of interest to you.