The 28-by-21.5-inch watercolor poster print was one of 750 sold during the city’s yearlong centennial celebration at events such as an “Old Redlands” themed market night, the centennial parade, and a firework spectacle.
Jane Dreher, who was a part of the Centennial Committee and the city’s public information officer at the time, said she developed the artwork over the course of a year in her home art studio.
A 1988 article, “Year of Redlands’ Centennial Arrives,” for the San Bernardino County Sun demonstrates the planners’ foresight about the “modestly priced centennial memorabilia expected to become historic.”
The poster’s presence in the Museum of Redlands collection confirms that vision.
Distance and space collide on the picture plane to present rich imagery of Redlands landmarks and traditions.
The artist tossed formalities of perspective and scale aside in favor of providing a comprehensive snapshot of the city. For instance, Kimberly Crest is about the same size as the wooden crate of navel oranges that appears directly above it.
Other recognizable monuments include the University of Redlands administration building, the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, the post office and train station.
Two of the city’s quintessential publications — the Redlands Daily Facts and The Citrograph — hover just above the double arched Asistencia. And, of course, what image of Redlands could ever be complete without a trusty smudge pot to symbolize the citrus industry?
According to Dreher, however, there is a method to her madness.
An eccentric chronological arrangement unravels in a clockwise direction, starting at 6 o’clock.
At the bottom of the poster, Judson and Brown, the city’s first planners, sit front and center while another iconic duo, the white-haired Smiley brothers, peak out from behind none other than the A.K. Smiley Public Library at 9 o’clock.
The University of Redlands Chapel sits at 12 o’clock, and so on.
Dreher ended the cycle at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, which was then only two years old.
In the midst of this colorful clockwork, the circular city seal claims centrality.
Larry E. Burgess, who served as chairman of the Centennial Committee, said the poster and especially the city seal exhibit the concepts of Redlands at the time.
The original logo featured a levitating Christian cross in one of four quadrants — the imagery would be subject to a major controversy and legal dispute at the beginning of the 21st century. The city eventually redesigned a new official seal with four arched towers positioned at cardinal points, converging while citrus and greenery splay out from their intersection.
“Who knew that it (the seal) would later become in essence a historical piece of the evolution of the city, and one now that is no longer utilized?” the historian questioned.
Dreher also spoke of the poster’s contribution toward the future. Selling the posters for $10 each, Dreher said her goal was to sponsor an art contest for K-12 schoolchildren to encourage their involvement in the city’s artistic spirit.
With the funds from the poster sales, Dreher and others displayed 174 art submissions of Redlands landmarks at the Cope Middle School Auditorium, and 12 winning works were included in a 1990 Redlands Calendar. Calendar profits provided scholarships for the 12 winners’ attendance of Redlands Art Association classes.
The centennial poster speaks to the past as much as it invested in fostering artistic practice for the future. The poster was certainly not alone in forming Redlands’s material history.
Beyond these 750 prints, the centennial memorabilia consisted of items like citrus label paperweights, T-shirts, bumper stickers and sterling teaspoons.
More San Bernardino County Sun coverage of the centennial memorabilia reported that over 5,000 items were sold in the end. In fact, just the T-shirts alone funded the $7,500 centennial fireworks display.
San Bernardino County Sun reporter John de Leon put it best in his opening line for 1988 coverage of the Redlands Centennial: “What do you give a city that has everything?”
This meticulous visual overview of the city’s architectural highlights and cultural development since its incorporation on Nov. 26, 1888, seems like a good place to start.