Tuesday, September 18, 2007

California research and wonderings

Spending time in urban centers has given us the opportunity to source from the riches and most comprehensive cultural and educational outlets.
CA has been fruitful. I met up with a dear friend who works at Patagonia. Patagonia offers employees up to $2500 towards the investment of a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle. Hows that for benefits. She also got us a link with the few restaurants in town that are savvy to collecting oil. The Thai restaurant down the street was ready to start a weekly schedule with me. The sushi restaurant was already on a system of collecting and delivering. The other Chinese and Thai restaurants thought I had already come in last week. They were prepared for gathering oil for me. In addition, for the first time this morning I found companies that actually clean and have a delivery service to your home like Green Diesel in Chino, CA. However, they don't distribute on a pick up basis.

We have been building our vocabulary and our interests are converging in a community of artists and activists, historians and mechanics. They are so few times in life to just learn and research and piece together ideas and spur others. We are doing just that.

San Francisco was filled with a visit to the largest botanical library in the western US. Joanna even found a publication from a regarded author she had worked with in Oaxaca. We looked at companion planting, heirloom seeds publications,botanical illustrations from South Africa that was inspiring for drawing. We made it to the Prelinger Library, which was written about earlier in our travels. Our camping dreams and set-up, process and location was inspired by the historical societies current exhibit of the Way We Camped. We ogled over the maps, camp song books, poems of the love for bacon and vintage publications of traveling techniques and set-up. We crossed the street to
SFMOMA to get a view of Ann Hamilton's indigo blue installation. There is nothing more profound than seeing what seems like 18,000 worn work shirts, pressed and folder into a triangular mound and an attendant worker sitting at the table in front of it erasing single words from a old book, letting the eraser bits make a nice pile of refuse, to make a commentary on labor.

Santa Cruz welcomed us to a beach side apartment bustling with friends and a warm welcome to the Santa Cruz County Fair , where we headed straight to the agricultural complex to view what the local pride reveals. Vegetables were showcased and given awards for the best in show. Growers were often young kids. The vegetable had been there all week and weren't exactly in the best shape, nor were the cakes from the last weeks contest. However I did see children bringing in their parents to show them their awards. The feeling of pure pride over a small reddish tomato, even if it is not organic or heirloom, seem effective for these little ones.

We passed through Castroville, to the micro climate where artichokes grow like crazy. When you can't go organic, just go kitsch...was our motto for castroville, as we passed factories steaming with who knows what, set out to find a seaside shanty for fried artichoke hearts and settled for the diner with a 6 foot artichoke outside. How can you pass through and NOT eat the artichoke bread?

LA was brewing with scientific and cultural combinations of art and space. Our visit to the Museum of Jurassic Technology was more than we had planned for. The moving dioramas inset into the wall and mechanical waves took our breath away. We came upon a historical view and diorama display of the history or mobile home and trailer living.

Just down the street was the Center for Land Use and Interpretation. They welcomed us through their discreet doorway. There was a parking exhibit that was not as impressive in presentation as it is in installation in urban centers. The most luring is their comprehensive library of industrial, urban or rural sites. The attendant encouraged us to document and perhaps submit land sites that we come across that can be added to their archive.

We are headed to Joshua Tree for a few days to find a few days in the desert to collect our ideas, source out the artistic community that has sprung up there, enjoy the quiet still sunrises, wax the car, fix the stove, and take all of bits and pieces of imagery that we have collected over the past 4 weeks to collage and build our journals. We are in the second leg of our travels. We will attend a sustainable gardening workshop at Native Seeds in Tuscon, visit the botany at the Desert Museum, and take to the mountains of Santa Fe to follow the Fallen Fruit local tree map and present out traveling photo booth to a high school class. Seeds of Change is offering us a chance to tour their gardens and view their seed banks. Marfa Texas will follow, with a plentiful and active arts festival. San Antonia will be next. Stay tuned. We are making, building and finding daily, although often times so rural it is hard to connect and share with you the day to day.

AND to our delight...we have a full tank of filtered veg oil in the car. Special thanks to the generous use of the Carman Family kitchen and to the plentiful and generous collection of veg oil.