Tracing the importance of water to the early settlers, a new public display on the waterways of the San Gabriel Valley was recently unveiled at the San Gabriel Mission.

Two giant cartographical-artworks --- the first of their kind available to the public --- are now part of a permanent display at the Mission Museum.

The handiwork of Michael Hart, who worked for nearly 40 years as vice president and general manager of Sunny Slope Water Company in Pasadena, the artworks were a true labor of love. “This has never been done before,” he said of the combination of maps, drawings and paintings that depict the relationship the mission had with the nearby rivers and streams back in the early days of the starts of the western San Gabriel Valley.

 “I want people to understand that the foundation of any community is its water supply,” added Hart, noting that the mission was the water hub for thousands of acres of vineyards, orchards, crops and human needs for decades.

Gathering research for 17 years, Hart used facts and details gleamed from local and national library archives into his artwork. Upon his retirement, he spent more than three years compiling and creating these hand-colored maps and illustrations. 

In addition to the permanent display at the Mission, eight of Hart’s other artworks are on display at the Huntington Library and Gardens in the current exhibition, “Water Began it All: A New Look at the San Gabriel Mission,” which runs through Feb. 19. 

In other San Gabriel Mission news, the California Mission Foundation recently donated $14,000 for a new smoke alarm system at 240-year-old mission and historical buildings. The work will be done by Mission Protection Systems under the guidance of company president Larry Tracy.

{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0120/map/{/gallery}