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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TwentySix: Home of the Airships


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

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USS Macon and Hanger 1
USS Macon and Hanger 1

Covering 8 acres, the size of 6 football fields, Hanger 1 at Moffett Field has always been a marvel to see driving by on busy Highway 101. Moffett Field was commissioned in 1933 as a Naval Air Station and over the years has been the base for airships, maritime patrol craft, NASA Ames Research Center, Satellite Control Network (AKA ‘Blue Cube’), and a host of other activities. An aerospace industry grew up around it in the towns of Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Moffett is now a joint civil-military airport.

A relic from the past, Hanger 1 was built in 1933 to house the airship USS Macon and is one of the worlds largest freestanding structures. Two other hangers nearby, appropriately called #2 and #3, are some of the world’s largest freestanding wood structures. currently, Hanger 1 is going through a restoration, removing asbestos and other dangerous materials.

Stevens Creek originates in the Santa Cruz Mountains, flows through the towns of Cupertino, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View. It flows by and empties into the San Francisco Bay right next to Moffett Field. On the other side of the creek is the world headquarters of a company called Google and a smaller company called LinkedIn. The Shoreline Amphitheater is nearby, one of the main concert venues in the bay area..

Of course, if you use the internet, you know who Google is. Their buildings (called the Googleplex) occupy blocks and blocks of buildings adjacent to Moffett Field. Recently, they have leased much of Moffett, and taken over the restoration of Hanger 1.

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I did the painting on a pedestrian bridge over Stevens Creek. Another sky painting, in front is Moffett Field with Hanger 1 on the left. The large building on the right is the intake for the worlds largest wind tunnel. Hanger 1 is a little hard to see in the photos as it currently has it’s outer skin removed and looks like a silver skeleton. I wanted to paint it as it usually looks, so put the skin back on.

Home of the Airships, 8x10, oil on board
Home of the Airships, 8×10, oil on board

As painting number twenty-six, this marks the halfway point in this quest, at least as far as the number of paintings. I am about 6 paintings ahead of schedule and will probably do more than the original 52 painting goal.

Coming up:
We are getting a series of Pacific storms, so am going to scout around for some of the smaller, seasonal streams. Also on the agenda, Chavez and Korakuen.