FortyThree: Fruit Tree


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long quest.

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Tell me; who has not had canned fruit cocktail in their lifetime…Del Monte, Libby…raise their hand!. Nobody? Thought so. All my life it was a dessert, or combined in other wonderful recipes. As a little guy, when my mom served it, we hoped our portion had a cherry, although in the syrup it all pretty much tasted the same! Now days, my wife is locally famous for her ambrosia which uses fruit cocktail and a number of other wonderful ingredients.

Silicon Valley used to be called the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” because of it’s fertile land, orchards, farms and ranches. Today, I painted in Sunnyvale, ground zero of the long gone fruit industry. I have painted in Sunnyvale before in ThirtyOne: A Setting Sun, and Forty: Plein Air Selfie.

Historically, as settlers came in, Sunnyvale continued to grow and in 1904, dried fruit production began. Libby, McNeill & Libby opened in 1907 and by 1922 became the world’s largest cannery, and you guessed it, the fruit cocktail was invented here.

During World War II, the war economy began a change from the fruit industry to the high-tech industry in Santa Clara County. Following the war, the fruit orchards and sweetcorn farms were cleared to build homes, factories and offices. In 1956, the aircraft manufacturer Lockheed moved its headquarters to Sunnyvale. Moffett Field, painted in TwentySix: Home of the Airships, was built nearby.

As part of Silicon Valley, high-tech companies such as Juniper Networks, Fortinet, AMD, NetApp, Spansion, Yahoo!, AppliedMicro and Ariba are headquartered here. Sunnyvale is also home to several aerospace/defense companies; Lockheed Martin has a major facility in Sunnyvale, and Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, Finisar, and Spirent.

For all the older geeks out there, Pong, the first video game was first installed here in Andy Capp’s Tavern….well, you know the rest of that story!

Today, the original Libby water tower is painted to resemble the first Libby’s fruit cocktail can label and marks the former site of the factory.

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Painting 43 was done in Sunnyvale, not too far from the site of the Libby plant, of what is called the Sunnyvale East Channel. Originally, there were no natural creeks in this part of the valley. To prevent local flooding of this poorly drained area, Sunnyvale East and Sunnyvale West channels were excavated in 1967 to convey storm water to the bay. Except for the trash depicted, the painting could almost be anywhere, but it is a little fenced off jewel of a scene in Sunnyvale.

Fruit Tree, 8x10, oil on board
Fruit Tree, 8×10, oil on board

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