“From the Kumeyaay to the Treganzas: Art Across Time,” a striking exhibit in The Parsonage Museum of Lemon Grove, honors the town’s founding parents during Hispanic Heritage Month (September) and heralds Native American History month (November).
The Kumeyaay of prehistory are depicted in large wall murals and pictographs showing the unpolluted, pristine landscape that was home to more than 300,000 Native Americans, grouped in about 30 clans, between 12,000 B.C. and the mid-18th century. The murals evoke the fatal impact of Spanish conquistadors and priests on the Kumeyaay whose numbers shrank to fewer than 20,000 as a result of disease, slavery, genocide and displacement from ancestral lands.
The murals were painted by the museum’s artists-in-residence, Kathleen Strzelecki and Janne LaValle, both noted painters and teachers of art based in Lemon Grove.
The exhibit also features clothing typical of the late Stone Age, fossils, utilitarian gourds, and the plants and rocks that were central to daily life, belief system, and cultural practices.
Prominently displayed in the exhibit are artifacts and paintings created by members of the Treganza family that settled in Lemon Grove in 1906. Of mixed Welsh, Spanish and Mexican ancestry, the Treganzas’ art forms a matrix between the Native American, Spanish and indigenous Mexican cultures that have influenced the cultural evolution of Lemon Grove and San Diego County.
The exhibit features objects created between 1900 and 1935 in hammered copper, brass and iron, several incised with Mexican Mimbres motifs; a large Spanish style copper tankard, heavy copper and brass mugs and candlesticks, gargoyles carved in medieval style, and other artifacts. The works were created by Alberto Treganza, the noted architect of San Diego Police Headquarters fame; his son, Adan, the anthropologist who founded the Anthropology Department and museum at San Francisco State University; and Adan’s wife, the artist Marian V. Treganza.
A companion exhibit traces three decades of modern Lemon Grove history, beginning in 1892 when the town first appeared in the county records as a subdivision called “Lemongrove.” The founding of the school system, construction of the town’s first church, establishment of the Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association, and the building of prosperous orchards and large homes marked the next three decades.
The Parsonage Museum, 3185 Olive, is located in Lemon Grove’s first church, a redwood Folk Victorian built in 1897. The museum stands in Civic Center Park opposite the 1928 H. Lee House Cultural Center, a Tudor Revival mansion that is the site of concerts, lectures, and classes. The Parsonage is open Saturdays, 10 4 p.m., and weekdays by appointment from 9 2:30 p.m. for groups of eight or more. Admission is $2; free for children 12 and under. For more information, call 619-460-4353 or log on to www.lemongrovehistoricalsociety.com.