I thought I may take a moment to talk about how this project came together. All of these pieces connect to a side and time of Evergreen. I’ve had to strip out the creative portions because I had no idea how rich this history was. It doesn’t need any fluff.
Luckily, I’m from Evergreen, so large portions of this is based on experience. I knew approximately what things were there or important. Like most works today, I started with a Google search. This led to lots of reading of books online and combing through photos. Lots of notes on groundbreaking lawsuits in Evergreen. It helps explain the acceleration of newcomers in the 1860’s. Oh boy. That’s a totally different blog for another time.
I read all of Colleen Cortese’s “Evergreen Pathways” articles published in the Evergreen Times. This experience and googling was really the starting place for my artwork. History San Jose also has a large collection of old photos.
This led me to many libraries across the Bay Area. Can I see this document in person? Can I get a better resolution picture? Is there background information to what I’m seeing here?
I have been coordinating with UC Berkley’s Bancroft Library, SJSU’s California Room and Sourisseau Academy’s Archives, Evergreen Valley College’s Heritage Room and other local resources. They have a lot online, but I suggest going in person. There’s nothing like the smell of old maps.
If you’re looking for newspaper clippings or old resident references specifically, head to the California Room and bring quarters. Set an alarm on your phone to the meter. You don’t want that parking ticket. If you’re looking for amazing old photography, head to Sourisseau Academy next door. Evergreen history, head to the Heritage Room curated by Colleen Cortese. The Italian American Heritage Foundation also had an amazing photo array and library. Everyone has been so gracious with my repeated visits. If you were looking for old relatives, I might do a catalog search at the California Room at the Martin Luther King Library. You might find something cool.
So, finding the original documents to work from wasn’t going to be a problem, as long as I had sentiment to connect them to. This helps substantially in setting the tone and color of the artwork itself.
In order to do that, I had to go collect that feeling. That led me to new people. I sat down face to face with a ton of amazing people, some who are represented within the artwork and those who aren’t. This also allowed the artwork to be tide to people and industries that bring a well rounded story together.
I sat down with educators, ranchers, farmers, vintners, orchardists, veterans, businessmen, authors and politicians. Specifically, I sought out Pioneer Evergreen families. We generally discussed growing up Evergreen or in Evergreen. The overwhelming feeling is that the land provided them with food, wine, friendship, inspiration and joy. They brought continued inspiration through the design process. Through contributing photos and stories, it brought further meaning to the artwork. I think it’ll inspire the audience. What inspired me was the warm, salt of the Earth nature everyone has.
But people can only tell you so much about what came before. Descendants of Pioneers and old time residents could tell you about their parents’ and grandparents’ versions of Evergreen, but what about before the Spanish colonized the area? Where do we confirm materials and accuracy for our Ohlone Tamien Muwekma Native Americans? I headed back to the experts at the SJSU Anthropology Department for some inspiration. I might also reach out to Native Muwekma organizations for an interview.
In addition to connecting with the proper resources and people, I found myself taking long drives and snaking through the Evergreen hills. I was forming a connection to the land and roads. It fuels my engine. There’s nothing like watching a sunset in Evergreen go down. This definitely adds to the artwork, even if it’s just added justification for how beautiful Evergreen really is. This kept me going through the creative process, but also adds further experience to some of the untouched hillsides needed throughout the collection.
I am making my last finishing touches to the artwork, but because it comes from decisive places, it’s easy to write about later. The blog will use all the research and interviews to tell the story along with artwork. Evergreen gets to be my Muse and it’s been a wonderful experience getting in touch with where I’m from.