Allegory of California
Rivera created his first U.S. fresco on the wall and ceiling of the grand stairwell. The large figure represents Califia, for whom the state is named. Her right hand mines the earth for its hidden treasure while the left hand holds the treasures that grow on its surface. Tennis-great Helen Wills Moody, a friend of Stackpole's, posed as Califia. There are also portraits of James Marshall, discoverer of gold, and Luther Burbank, famed horticulturist. Other figures represent the engineer, the merchant and the farmer, all panning for gold. Youth and its dreams are represented by a serious minded boy (the model in this case was photographer Peter Stackpole) holding an aero plane, representing the infant industry. The oil industry and shipping are illustrated above Califia's shoulders. The large ceiling figure running diagonally (to recall the diagonal line created by the rail of the stairs) depicts electrical achievement, flanked by representations of sun and billowy clouds.