FortyEight: ‘The Jungle’ Fate


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

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The largest homeless camp in the United States is right in the heart of affluent Silicon Valley*. Situated just south and less than a mile away of downtown San Jose, there are up to 350 residents living in “The Jungle”, as it is locally called. Just a few yards away, across Story Road, is the beloved kiddie amusement park and zoo, Happy Hollow, and is one long block from the city’s municipal ballpark and San Jose State University’s stadium. The Japanese Friendship garden painted in TwentySeven: Koraken is less than a block away.

The Jungle in essence is a city for the homeless on the banks of Coyote Creek. (Coyote Creek was previously painted in this quest at other stretches in Eleven: Christmas Day, Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves, and ThirtySix: El Toro.) Driving by on Story Road, you would never notice the despair below under the trees as cars, buses, and minivans of families head to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.

Most of the residents are San Jose locals. Snaking trails wind through trees and bushes, with Spanish-speaking sections and neighborhoods like Little Saigon, where Vietnamese residents have dug large rooms into steep hillsides. There are makeshift shelters, tents, hand-dug latrines, tree houses, piles of human waste, cast-off clothing, lots of shopping carts, car parts, and discarded food rots. There are cats and kittens, dogs large and small, chickens, ducks, even a bunny. There is a large drug culture in parts of the camp.

There are numerous other camps all over Santa Clara County, some at times get cleared and cleaned out, but The Jungle is entrenched. Santa Clara County has the dubious honor of having the fifth-highest homeless population in the nation. A report, released by the city of San Jose, found 7,361 homeless individuals around the county with 4,770 people identified in San Jose.

Many more news and other articles are available about The Jungle, a few are here, here, and here.

A number of government and private groups are helping. You can read about a few here, and here.

 

Here are some of my personal photos of The Jungle, albeit mainly around the perimeter–
Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

 

To see more inside and closeup click this link, for some better photos right in The Jungle. It is startling.

 

Painting The Jungle has been on my list almost from the beginning of this quest. Besides showing the beauty of the creeks in Santa Clara Valley, I wanted to show some of the grit along the waterways. I have reconnoitered the area several times, but never actually gone in. While doing research, a knowledgable friend strongly advised me not to go into it and do a painting by the creek. The area is lawless and not safe, including a lot of drug trafficking. Although groups of aid and other workers visit, I didn’t really want to bother anyone to form a posse of bodyguards, so put on my scraggiest clothes (actually my normal plein air garb) and walked around parts of the perimeter and in a little ways to get a feel for the place, take pictures, and color notes, etc.

I spent as much as I could on-site gathering information, but this painting is not plein air, and is the first, and hopefully only non-plein air painting in this quest. I would have liked to paint right on the creek, and wanted to include it in my quest, so painted it alla prima (all at once) in my normal plein air style in the studio.

 

"The Jungle" Fate, 8x10, oil on board
“The Jungle” Fate, 8×10, oil on board

 


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.
Click on this link for a Pinterest catalog of all paintings so far.



*Considered by most as the largest, but the population varies.
***Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

ThirtySix: El Toro


Continuing the “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” year long quest.

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El Toro, 8x10, oil on board
El Toro, 8×10, oil on board

When Silicon Valley residents head south on Highway 101, the first town they encounter after leaving San Jose is Morgan Hill. Morgan Hill sits at the north end of Coyote Valley, considered a narrowing of Santa Clara Valley, and still considered part of Silicon Valley.

As drivers pass through, off to the right above the town is a prominent hill, that many, including myself for many years, thought must be the hill they named after Morgan…whoever he was!

Well, wrong.

Morgan Hill was named after a fellow called Hiram Morgan Hill. Hiram married one of the daughters of the owner of most of the land in the area, who’s father was one of the first pioneers to cross the Sierra Nevada and settle the area. Later, the train station was popularly referred to as Morgan Hill’s Ranch stop, and the town name shortened to Morgan Hill when they incorporated in 1906. More history of Morgan Hill can be found here and here. Oh, the name of the hill is El Toro.

Morgan Hill
Morgan Hill

Morgan Hill still has a small town agrarian feel, however suburbia from Silicon Valley is quickly taking over.

I painted in Morgan Hill today along Coyote Creek in Anderson Lake County Park just below Anderson Reservoir. It is one of the few waterways still flowing after our dry winter. Coyote Creek is actually a river and the largest watershed which flows through Santa Clara Basin, AKA Silicon Valley. It is fed by Anderson Reservoir, so flows year round…at least so far!

I previously painted Coyote Creek in Eleven: Christmas Day and Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves.

Rather than include a few pictures, here is a short video along Coyote Creek…this location being one of the little waterway jewels of the bay area–


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.


Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves

The Los Gatos Plein Air Group was out painting today by Coyote Creek, so I joined them for painting number twelve. They meet every Monday morning, and I used to paint with them fairly frequently, but haven’t much the last few years. It was great to see old friends again, and I think the first hour was spent just chatting and catching up! BTW, I would have liked to title them ‘Masters’ in this blog entry, but trying to keep up the cutsey rhyming titles…we are all elves.

We painted by Coyote Creek about ten miles upstream from Eleven: Christmas Day, also on Coyote Creek, but in a more rural area. This is probably the furthest south I will paint for this project, even though some consider Silicon Valley to extend even further south to the agricultural towns of Morgan Hill, San Martin and, Gilroy, which have become bedroom communities for Silicon Valley. These towns reside in Coyote Valley, considered a narrowing of Santa Clara Valley (AKA Silicon Valley), and the watershed for Coyote Creek.

Nearby, is IBM’s, Silicon Valley Lab (formerly known as the “Santa Teresa Lab”), of which and I have a number of friends either working, or have worked there.

Click here for a map of all painting locations.

It was a relatively small crowd for the Los Gatos Group with about half a dozen of us. Here are a few shots–

One of the Los Gatos Group painting by one of the ponds fed by Coyote Creek.
One of the Los Gatos Group painting by one of the ponds fed by Coyote Creek.
A local horse stops to see Rebeccah's painting.
A local horse stops to see Rebeccah’s painting.

A painting of the large pond which Coyote Creek flows into and out of would have been nice, but decided to stick to the stream for project’s name sake.

I painted the spot where Coyote Creek flows out of the pond.
I painted the spot where Coyote Creek flows out of the pond.
The Los Gatos Elves,  8x10, Oil on panel
The Los Gatos Elves, 8×10, Oil on panel

The group has a couple more stream locations on their agenda coming up soon, and I hope to join them again as weather and locations permit.

I may have picked the wrong year to do this project! By this time, the valley usually gets a few Pacific storms dumping enough rain to start many of the smaller streams, but so far this year it has been totally dry. But, like I said in the beginning, there is no lack of subject matter, and that still holds true. Even though we have had wonderful weather, I am hoping for rain!

Eleven: Christmas Day


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

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With our only son out of the country, and the family get-together set for later today, I decided to go out and do a morning painting fairly close to the house. Coyote Creek is actually a river and the largest watershed which flows through Santa Clara Basin, AKA Silicon Valley. I painted right by Hellyer Park, right under the Hellyer Avenue bridge.

Since it is Christmas Day, I’ll keep this post short with just a few pictures. I will be painting more of Coyote Creek, so will talk about it more in the future.

My easel painting Coyote Creek by Hellyer Park
My easel painting Coyote Creek by Hellyer Park
Painting Coyote Creek under the Hellyer Avenue Bridge
Painting Coyote Creek under the Hellyer Avenue Bridge
Christmas Day, 8x10, oil on panel
Christmas Day, 8×10, oil on panel