American Alley WPA Murals–A PostScript

Past articles regarding the WPA murals by Charlie Roetter & Fernando Nugent are filed under American Alley

Last in the series about Petaluma’s American Alley

A collaborative project with Independent Journalist, Frances Rivetti

A constant feature of our collective search for the history behind the murals, was encountering the unexpected. During the interview with Frances Rivetti in the alley, Fernando Nugent mentioned, almost casually, that the artwork also extended into the store.  He took us inside Copperfield’s and led us downstairs where he pulled boxes away from the wall to reveal…

© Frank Simpson

Now here comes the embarrassing part for me.  The above photo is the only one I intended to publish from inside the store.  As I was organizing my files for archiving, I noticed another photo I had made inside the store–one that I totally disregarded, but which really caught me off-guard when I really looked at it. I completely missed it…

© Frank Simpson

 Did Fernando predict that someone would come along 18 years later and photograph him on site?

© Frank Simpson


American Alley WPA Murals–Meet the Artist In The Argus

Past articles regarding the WPA murals by Charlie Roetter* & Fernando Nugent are filed under American Alley

Sixth in the series about Petaluma’s American Alley

A collaborative project with Independent Journalist, Frances Rivetti

* We learned  today that this is the correct spelling of the name. “Roder” was picked up from the original Argus article in 1995.


Eighteen years after completing his work on the American Alley WPA multimedia murals, Fernando Nugent once again returned to the scene to talk about the project with Frances Rivetti.

By way of history, Fernando was featured in an Argus-Courier article on April 25, 1995, standing in front of the artwork.

Today, May 10, 2012, Fernando is again featured in a column by Frances Rivetti in the Argus: American Alley mural ‘hiding in plain sight’ 

  • For those fortunate enough to be Argus-Courier subscribers, you are in luck! If you are not a subscriber, pick up a copy of today’s paper! The column will not be available online except in the E-edition of the Argus. For information as to how to subscribe, go to Argus Courier E-Edition
  • For readers ourside the Bay Area, including Petaluma Expats living in Washington DC and NYC, I can offer little solace except that Frances has also written a blog article about the interview with Fernando Nugent. In her blog article, Frances also includes photos of me getting down & dirty! Lord, did I really do that!!?  I guess a photo is worth a 1000 words! Check it out now by clicking on Petaluma’s American Alley Mural Mystery. 


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Protected: Sunday Morning…Low Flying Helicopter– once again over the East Side

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Rebuilding (A Community) Together…Petaluma

“I believe that it is only by sharing our stories that we truly become one community.”

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

(New York Times Book Review, April 29, 2012)

In the spirit of this quote, I will attempt to share some of the stories from Rebuilding Together Petaluma’s workday on April 21st.

On April 21, 2012, Rebuilding Together Petaluma (RTP)* volunteers once again spread out across Petaluma to  assist five qualifying homeowners with major home repairs and modifications. In addition, RTP and Daily Acts conducted an educational work project to enhance the City Hall Gardens planted in 2009. The City Hall project was sponsored by Sonoma Bank and the Paula Lane Action Network.

While I have never seen a barn rasing, RTP workdays are, most likely, quite similar in terms of energy and human spirit.

In the past I have attempted to show a portion of these RTP projects through photos.  This time I will first provide some feedback  from two of the homeowners:

  • ” (We had)…all about gave up on humanity. We were in despair – until all of you came. Thank you for giving us hope and faith. Thank you also for your hard work, efforts, kindness and compassion. You’re truly our heroes. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! With Joy and love.”
  • “The kindness of the volunteers meant much more than words could ever thank you for! It is humbling to receive this kind of help. Bless you all. My home is lovelier than it has been in years and years.”

Jane Hamilton of RTP reports that in one location: “The work day generated so much activity in the neighborhood, that several other homeowners started working on their places and within days all of the leftover compost and mulch were distributed into many yards.   Often when repairing a person’s home we inadvertently end up affecting the whole neighborhood as well!”

Jane also advises that the work on a  mobile home of a disabled veteran was particularly gratifying: “(Mr. R’s) mobile home (is now)…a cleaner, safer, more water and energy efficient, accessible home. Most of (the RTP volunteers did not) get to see the final product of (their) exceptionally hard work, because it took a few more days to finish, but the results were stunning. (Mr R.) asked me to express his deepest gratitude to all of you and let you know he feels he is living in a whole new world. He is exercising up and down the hallway 4 times a day with his new grab bars, able to use his kitchen and bathroom with ease, and he is extremely motivated by the amount of stuff gone from his home and yard.”

And now the photos!

Photographers Joan Bunn, Victor Kunkel, Guiseppe Lipari, and Joe Chatterton covered four of the work sites and I was at two homes in Leisure Lakes.

All photos are available by clicking on RTP’s SmugMug Page

PLUS…A Brief Slideshow

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Please take note of the businesses and organizations that sponsored and/or volunteered their expertise or goods to help make these projects a success:

Sears Heroes At Home Program; S.C. Barns; Jeff England & Associates; Lon Wiley Construction; Doug Sanders Painting; Craig Riddle Handyman; North Bay Corporation; Velasco’s Restaurant; Whole Foods

Larry Hillblom Foundation; Petaluma Realtors; Circle Bank; Podesta Builders; C & J Properties Services, Casey Hopkins; City of Petaluma; Just Floor Covering, Mike Roesner; JF Electric, Jamie Freedman; Moore Heating & Air-Conditioning, Jon Diamond; North Bay Corporation; Strom Electric, David Freedman; The Floor Works, Robyn Perry

Redwood Credit Union & Volunteer Team;  Summit Bank; Adaptive Pest Control; Casey Hopkins; City of Petaluma; C & J Property Services, Jim Gemperline; Design in Wood, Andrew Jacobson; Fine Home Tuning, Rick Edwards; Just Floor Covering, Mike Roesner; Icon Plumbing, Jeff Martini; JF Electric, Jamie Freedman; Moore Heating & Air-conditioning, Jon Diamond; Nick Ryan Construction; Tony Capretta