At 6:25 PM on October 25, just as dusk was turning into night, The Arc of Riverside County unveiled their National Wall of Respect in front of over 200 elected officials, community leaders, supporters and friends.
The Wall was conceived and created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Arc of Riverside County and shows people with and without disabilities in a backdrop of famous Riverside icons. Artists Erin Maxwell, Cathy Maxwell and Greg Maxwell were present for the occasion. This mural was created on a wall in the parking of The Arc main facility in Riverside at 8138 Mar Vista Court.
Master of Ceremonies for the event, The Arc board member Stan Morrison, set the stage and prepared the eager onlookers for their first glimpse of the 40 feet by 8 feet mosaic mural.
Morrison introduced several speakers before the unveiling. Mayor Rusty Bailey spoke of the city’s commitment to people with disabilities and all vulnerable groups and thanked The Arc for this effort. The artists held onsite workshops over the many months of the mural’s creation. Aktion Club members and others with and without disabilities placed tile pieces on the mural under the direction of the artists. Mayor Bailey said he attended one of these workshops with his daughter and that it was a great experience.
Ward 1 City Councilman Mike Gardner said his two years as a manager at The Arc helped him appreciate the abilities of folks with intellectual disabilities and “even though they may have special needs, they deserve our respect and our acceptance of them as full members of our community.”
Executive Director of The Arc, Jim Stream said, “We dedicate this wall today to the individuals who are often left behind, not always given the respect we believe they deserve, and not always provided equal justice.” He said further, “But this is also our celebratory gift to the city of Riverside for their support and cooperation — extraordinary help in many ways – in this our 60th year of existence in a city that is truly Seizing its Destiny.” Stream represented The Arc’s board of directors who were all in attendance.
Artist Erin Maxwell spoke on behalf of her family to the audience before the unveiling and compared this mosaic mural to the mosaic of groups that make up a vibrant community like Riverside that live, work and play together.
When finally unveiled, the mural glimmered in artificial light, as the thousands of pieces of mosaic tiles, pebbles and glass, displayed the masterful work of the Maxwell family – a labor of love over the last 7 months, according to them.
The mural shows likenesses of six Aktion Club members and others doing various activities; playing in Fairmont Park, walking along the Mt Rubidoux path, and planting trees as a volunteer activity, among other depictions including the excitement of one young person receiving a gold medal in a Special Olympics event. The artists’ creation illustrates the four themes given them at the beginning of the project: Respect, Dignity, Inclusion and Justice.
Besides the Riverside landmarks mentioned above, others shown in the mural are the tower of the University of California – Riverside, the Mission Inn, the Raincross and a subtle tribute to the importance of aviation to our community. At one end of the mural is a depiction of former Mayor Ron Loveridge, waving from a 1957 Chevrolet, an image taken from a parade. His presence in the mural is an illustration of his importance to the development of Riverside over the past 30 years.
Among the dignitaries present for the unveiling were State Assemblyman Jose Medina, Police Chief Sergio Diaz, Riverside Unified School District Board President Gayle Cloud, City Council members, Jim Perry, Mike Gardner, Ken Gutierrez, Chris Mac Arthur, and Steve Adams, Mayor Bailey and former Mayor Loveridge.
Several groups of special importance to The Arc were in attendance including the Uptown Kiwanis Club of Riverside, sponsors of the Aktion Club and The Arc of California’s board of directors. This group represents Arc chapters statewide and was holding meetings at the Mission Inn. Inland Regional Center was represented by their Board of Trustees President, Marybeth Feild, and Executive Director Carol Fitzgibbons. This agency provides the funds and coordinates the case managers for all individuals with developmental disabilities in the Inland Empire.
After the unveiling, Aktion Club President Tiffany Sombrito commented, “I can’t believe so many people came to our event. I think it shows that they care.”
The National Wall of Respect can be viewed at any time. The ideal time is after 4 PM on weekdays or any time on weekends.