Thirty: Chavez Legacy

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

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Controversy followed Cesar Chavez much of his life. Born in Arizona and growing up as a migrant farm worker, he became a civil activist, union leader, and labor organizer for farm workers rights, founding the National Farm Workers Association, later called the United Farm Workers union.

Whether you agreed with him or not, he had a huge impact on farm worker rights and is considered, arguably, the second most influential civil rights activist after Martin Luther King. Maybe surprising to some today, he was against illegal immigration, and actively protested the US lax immigration enforcement. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1994 by President Clinton. More info can be found here.

Chavez spent much of his life in San Jose, in the barrio Sal Si Puedes, or “Escape if you can”, in what is now known as East San Jose, Mayfair neighborhood. In this dangerous, rough and tumble area of the city, he raised a family of eight children. He had spent younger years picking fruit in the San Jose area when it was called the “Valley of Hearts Delight’ and full of fruit orchards prior to becoming a nationally known activist. Being poor his entire life, he never made more than $5000 a year. He certainly “walked the talk”. A movie was just released about his life which is showing in theaters as this is being written.

I did painting Thirty just around the corner from where Chavez lived in San Jose. Although 44 Scharff Ave is marked as the ‘home’ of Chavez, in reality, the family later tore his house down and built a larger one on the same lot.

I painted right on the San Antonio Street bridge as it passes over Lower Silver Creek, once again behind a chain link fence. Upper Silver Creek, a few miles away, was the first painting of this quest “One Down, Fifty One to Go”. Here the creek meanders slightly in a man made channel. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

Here is a panorama shot I did of the location–

A 180 degree panorama of my painting spot along San Antonio Street
A 180 degree panorama of my painting spot along San Antonio Street

And the final painting–

Chavez Legacy, 8x10, oil on board
Chavez Legacy, 8×10, oil on board

The bridge on the upper right is a pedestrian bridge, a number of which can be found crossing the creeks in the neighborhood.

Coming up…spring flowers!

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

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