Found Art

Watsonville has history that may not be taught in its schools.

Sure, Steinbeck and Cesar Chavez most likely get a mention. For any newcomer who does not know, yes, Steinbeck's books are set in the Monterey Peninsula and in Salinas, essentially next door. From East of Eden:

Maybe she had stayed in Watsonville. There was Pajaro, and that was a railroad section, and then the Pajaro River and the bridge into Watsonville.

But what do they learn about Fermin Tobera, I wonder? He was a Filipino agricultural worker murdered in the Watsonville race riots of 1930, by three white high school students and channeled in this moving lament:

and drive to Watsonville
to Lompoc, San Pedro
to Oxnard and back again
past the neatly clipped lawns
of white neighborhoods
where they are not wanted
in a country
where they are not welcome.
And to do this over and over
like a man slapping
his own face again and again.

Look too at this eloquent and elegant portrayal of the workers' children in Pajaro by the same poet, one of Watsonville's own who teaches at Cabrillo College.

Pajaro the children who clean
the mud from their father’s boots
They sleep They wake
to the smell of cauliflower growing
in fields that are not dreams
fields that begin under their bedroom windows
and end in a world they do not know

I wonder who else has never heard of the poet or his subject? I suspect that someone out there could learn from finding him. Yes, there is poetry in Pajaro. Yes there is.

I also wonder how much is getting lost in the name of progress. A passing reference to a mural commissioned for the Post Office in Los Banos, which may or may not have survived, puzzled us. Why doesn't the post office know? An image search does not clear the matter up.

So. Obviously much more could be told. I found these just while looking up the mural in Watsonville's main library.

What's the story of the retro fruit-label murals downtown? I am confident that these are recent re-creations; they look new. But how did they appear? And why? Who made it happen?

Please. Anyone who has stories that need telling, and might just get told if given just a little help, or a place to tell them, or someone to tell them to, please add a mention of them here. Or if you prefer, start your own page for them using the form to the right.

I am trying to provide actual bibliographic references but if you don't have the time or patience to do so do not let this stop you. I very much prefer a reference that needs editing to one that I do not know about. I am awed by what I do not know about Watsonville.

Further Reading

Gallant, Wayne; WPA Murals; January 13 2009 on a Salon blog

Lorance, Nancy; New Deal/WPA Art in Los Banos, California; 2005

ibid; New Deal/W.P.A. Art in California; 2005

Migrant Media Productions; Watsonville on Strike

Ngai, Mae M.; Impossible subjects: illegal aliens and the making of modern America; Princeton University Press, 2004

Pinnacle News Online; Racial Hatred Once Flared on Central Coast;