Story of Fernando Hernández
By Albania Alegría
June, 2005
(Hayward High School Graduate, 2005)
[this is part of the Latino Oral History Project funded by
the Zermeño Family and the Hayward Areah Historcal Society]

Introduction:

As a young boy, Fernando Hernandez had a unique ability that was passed on in his family. Grandson of Carlos Gonzalez, a well-known muralist in the 1900's in Mexico City, Fernando was part of an artistic "dynasty." Knowing that he wanted to be an artist in the future, he took many art classes in school.

At the age of fourteen, his mother, stepfather, and two sisters emigrated from Mexico City to Alamo, California. The language was a struggle, but not a barrier for Fernando and his family. Even though the area did not have many Latinos, Fernando and his family were able to learn how to speak English with progress. Having experienced the "culture clash" when arriving at Alamo, he began taking a lot of art classes in Monte Vista High School, which was a natural skill for him. His long and yearning passion for art would soon be part of his career. When his family moved to Hayward, Fernando decided after graduating from Monte Vista High School, to go to California State University, Hayward and receive a Bachelors in Fine Arts. He also continued his education at Washington State University.

Throughout his career, Fernando has participated in many educational and art institutions. He has been a teacher at Cal State Hayward and Diablo Valley College, board of directors at the Sun Gallery, volunteer maintainer of a community garden in Hayward, bronze casting teacher, as well as many more things in the Bay Area. Fernando is also very dedicated to his family. Husband of Katie Arriaga and father of two beautiful young girls, Fernando has been an example of a talented and involved Latino resident of Hayward.
As a dedicated resident of Hayward, Fernando has had the opportunity to express his creativity throughout the city. He immigrated to California with his family not knowing what lied ahead of him. With a well-rounded educational background, Fernando has been able to share his knowledge of art to many people of all ages of the Bay Area. He continues to participate and share his artistic talent all over the Bay Area, and believes in the importance of education and the preservation of nature. As a Latino Hayward resident, he has also participated in many Latino activities that occur throughout the year. Fernando expresses his satisfaction with the city of Hayward by saying, "I like the mix of people; you get people from all over the world, for me that'sthat's the environment that I want my kids to grow up in and seeI like the mix that Hayward has, very cosmopolitan."

Immigration:

Leaving his hometown of San Miguel Allende in Mexico City was an excitement for Fernando because he was going to the United States. On his first night, in his new home land, the trip from the airport to Alamo along Crow Canyon Road was unlike any thing he had seen in Mexico City. On the windy road that would lead him to his new home, he observed the reflectors on the streets, reminding him of a video game, he knew life would be difficult here.
As Fernando went to school at Monte Vista High School, he got a one-on-one tutor that would help him and his sisters to speak and write English. They were really glad to receive a lot of good support from the school. Fernando began taking many art classes in school and also had a very good art teacher.
Little did Fernando know that he would implement his passion and talent to the community, he would soon call home. Fernando's stepfather was tired of commuting to his job and decided to move in the same town. So, Fernando's family moved to Hayward, California.

Art in Fernando's Life:

After graduating from Monte Vista High School, Fernando quickly went to attend California State University Hayward and received a Bachelor's of Fine Arts. As years passed, Fernando pursued his Masters in Fine Arts in Washington State University. During his stay, he became a ceramics technician. When he finished, he returned to Hayward and worked at Cal State Hayward as well as a ceramics teacher and ceramics technician at Diablo Valley College.
He soon became involved with the Sun Gallery. The Sun Gallery of Hayward exhibits and educates people about art. Fernando has been very dedicated to a successful art exhibit annually called the Días de los Muertos (Days of the Dead). Days of the Dead is an old custom celebrated in November 1st (All Saints Day) of each year in Mexico and Central America. The exhibit celebrates the lives of people who have passed away by displaying altars and artwork. As the board of directors, Fernando has been involved in many projects that have taken part in there.
Fernando has also dedicated himself to educate teenagers about the process of bronze casting. Inspired by the Sun Gallery, he decided to teach some some aspects of art to high school students. With the assistance of federal grants, Fernando and his friend, a welder, helped the students of Moreau Catholic High School to design and assemble a large steel sculpture.
Fernando was soon offered the opportunity to assist in designing another public sculpture for the city of Hayward's 125th year celebration. Fernando and Incoronata Molino, a bay area artist, created a bronze plaque of the late Cesar Chavez, a Mexican American farm worker activist, for the Hayward Public Library in 1994. This bronze plaque was commissioned by La Alianza de Hayward.
Although Fernando dedicated his time to teaching youth about art and displaying his artwork around Hayward, he also has been involved in preserving a garden in Hayward.

Community Garden in Hayward:

Along with creating public artwork and teaching art at various educational institutions, Fernando got involved in helping preserve a garden in Hayward. The community garden, located on Prospect Street and Main Street, was originally created by Frank Gouldart, a local lawyer.

Ten years ago, before the garden was created, there was an abandoned lot owned by the city of Hayward. Frank and other members of the community requested to plant a few Redwood trees. Since the agreement of allowing Frank and the community to maintain the garden, many people have contributed to the well being of the plants.

The idea of a community garden has slowly come alive over the years. With the help of Frank, Fernando, and others, the once abandoned lot, will serve as an educational environment where people can gather around, walk, read, or simply look at mother nature. Fernando has believed in the preservation of gardens in the community. Throughout the years he has witnessed the deterioration of land due to more infrastructure construction in Hayward.
When Fernando first moved to Hayward, he remembered seeing many gladiola farms at the stretch of Mission Boulevard out to Union City. Fernando expresses his memory of Hayward by saying, "Right down the year, there would be stripes of red gladiolas. The different colors of the flowers. As far as the eye could see, both [sides] of the roads. Now its country clubs and golf courses. It's all incredible it was an incredible view. And now it's all gone."