Coachella Announces Virtual Unveiling of the Coachella Library’s first oil painting by Artist Laurence Neufeld donated by Billy Steinberg

COACHELLA – The city of Coachella will hold a virtual unveiling ceremony Friday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m. to introduce an oil painted mural referred to as “Vineyard Harvest” by artist Laurence Neufeld and donated by Billy Steinberg.

Neufeld was an Art Major at Bard College in New York and at University of Connecticut, where he earned his degree. Billy Steinberg is a songwriter, musician and record producer known for co-writing No. 1 hits “Like a Virgin” by Madonna (1984), “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper (1986), “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles (1989), and “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston (1987), to name a few.

Measuring 14ft. by 7ft., this oil painted Vineyard Harvest Mural by Laurence Neufeld was commissioned in 1979 by Lionel Steinberg and Billy Steinberg. Lionel Steinberg started growing grapes in the early 1950’s and became the largest grape-growing operations in the Coachella Valley known as the David Freedman Company, farming over 1,300 acres. In 1970, Lionel Steinberg signed the first Collective Bargaining Agreement with Cesar Chavez’s United Farmworkers Union (UFW). Lionel Steinberg served as President of the California State Board of Agriculture, under both Governor Pat Brown and Governor Jerry Brown.

“We are very excited to be unveiling the Coachella Library’s first painting and that the donation was made by a person with such music and pop culture stature like Mr. Billy Steinberg,” said Steven Hernandez, Mayor of the City of Coachella “This painting captures history at a very important time. The painting depicts the beauty of the Eastern Coachella Valley and the beauty of our farmworkers, who have been so essential to the growth of the Coachella Valley.” Mayor Hernandez also stated, “Whether this mural was painted yesterday or in 1979, as you can see, it’s timeless.”

Neufeld applied the canvas directly onto the entry wall of the David Freedman Company headquarters where it stayed until the company was sold in the 1990’s. Since that time, Billy Steinberg hung the mural in his Santa Monica office. As a son of a farmer, Billy worked alongside the farmworkers who taught him how to properly prune table grapes; Billy knew the farmworkers and their families intimately. After his farming career, the multi-talented Billy Steinberg found success as a songwriter and record producer. In 2011, he was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

“This painting means a lot to me and I believe that this work of art depicts an important part of United States history.” said Billy Steinberg.

Along with the mural, Billy Steinberg is also donating: a framed charcoal drawing by Neufeld, showing vines at pruning time; a pencil study for the mural which shows the vineyards; 1970 historical photo of Lionel Steinberg and Cesar Chavez signing the first Collective Bargaining Agreement on April 1, including Dolores Huerta and others; and, a late-1980’s photo of Cesar Chavez and Billy Steinberg taken in Los Angeles.

For those who would like to attend the virtual event, tune into the City’s Facebook Live broadcast on Friday, May 7 at 1:30 p.m.

Image Sources

  • Vineyard Harvest: City of Coachella