This year, the Lodi Arts Commission and Lodi Art Foundation were hoping to have a mural commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment painted somewhere in the city.
But, like many other events and additions to the city’s cultural appeal, COVID-19 delayed the mural’s progress.
However, artist Tony Segale, who has been approved to paint the mural, said he may finally put brush to wall in the coming months.
“The design has been done, just about everything has been approved, now it’s just a matter of waiting for the final approval from the city council,” he said. “They told me not to be surprised if something doesn’t happen until January or February, though.”
Segale, who has painted several murals throughout the city and displays his artwork at the Double Dip Gallery on Elm Street, said the original concept he designed in March for the new painting was to have a white woman riding a bicycle.
He decided to make some major changes to the piece in June when an extension was made possible after the city council first approved the mural.
“This honors and celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote,” he said. “But what it actually did was give only white women the right to vote. It took decades for different races to get the right to vote. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act in 1965 when everybody got the right to vote.”
What Segale ended up doing was making one-half of the woman a white suffrage member, and the other half multiracial to celebrate the right to vote for all women.
Segale said the bicycle is an important piece of the mural, as the machine became popular in the late 19th Century and helped women be less reliant on men.
“It really helped them gain more mobility for movement from one place to another,” he said. “It helped them so much, it upset males, and doctors of the time were in fear they were going to suffer from ‘bicycle face.’”
According to doctors, Segale said, over-exertion and the effort needed to maintain balance on the machine tended to produce a wearied and exhausted “bicycle face” that would make women less attractive.
Segale said he plans to incorporate that little-known historical myth in the mural’s border.
The mural is planned for the curved wall outside the World of Wonders Science Museum, and Segale said the plan is to paint it to make it look like the woman is riding down the museum’s steps nearby.
According to a June 3 city council meeting agenda, the mural will be no more than 400 square feet in size.
Segale said he will unveil the final design of the mural once the city council gives its final approval.
“While the concept is about the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it’s also very timely,” he said.
Carolyn Ross, a member of the arts commission’s subcommittee for the project, said the mural was just part of a larger 19th Amendment celebration that had been scheduled for August.
The celebration included a parade, a walking tour of historical places Lodi’s own suffragist, Laura DeForest Gordon, had lived or been around town, among other features.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed every aspect of the celebration except the mural, she said.
“Our hope is that if these vaccines pan out and there’s some decent distribution, maybe in the coming year we can still have this great celebration,” she said. “This was a really huge effort and something everyone worked so hard on. We didn’t want it to be political or religious, just a celebration for all of us in Lodi.”