As we embark upon this collaborative exhibition with the Irving J. Gill Foundation (IrvingJGill.org) I am struck by how far-reaching one man’s work can be. Gill was an architect by trade; he worked hard, lived a modest life, died in obscurity, and yet the lives he and his work continue to touch are vast.
I’m learning from tribal and community members what it was and is like to live in the cottages here at Barona. The roofs leaked. The cement was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. They don’t sound like the perfect low-cost, low-maintenance homes Gill envisioned for the People. The houses have mostly stayed in the families for whom they were originally built and several generations of tribal and community members have grown up in Gill buildings.
Gill isn’t known as a famous architect here on the reservation—he was the guy that the government hired to build houses for the People when they were forced to move from Capitan Grande. Gill supervised construction of the church and cottages here at Barona believing that he was making a difference in people’s lives. He was. He still is, as is evident in the stories told throughout the collaborative exhibition. I hope you’ll make time to visit Stones in the Meadow: Irving Gill’s Church and Cottages on the Barona Indian Reservation after it opens in September and see the influence Gill had here on the Reservation and throughout southern California.