The mission suffered greatly after secularization. For over 90 years, wind , rain and avarice reduced the mission's adobe walls to grotesque, sad brown mounds of mud.
Farmers, mostly of Swiss heritage, plowed the dark soil with little or no regard for the mission ruins. Year round, they planted a plethora of profit-making vegetables. The harvest over, the gleaning complete, cattle were brought in to graze on what remained. Early on, I watched the cattle eat, sleep, drink and defecate among the sad mission ruins.
S O L E D A D S E R I E S
Soledad has prided itself as the "Carrot Capital of the World".... "The Heart of Salinas Valley". However , for years the nearby state prison, "Soledad Prison" has defined the town . Today, Soledad is far from the small farming community I grew up in. The once barren foothill's with their rocky soil are now smothered with lush grape vineyards producing among the finest of California wines.
Soledad has shaped who I am and continues to be a fertile bed for much of my imagery. The mission has been partially restored and is now worth a visit . Soledad is now a thriving community with its own Starbucks.
Most drawings are 8x10 inches sketchbook size.
I Met a Snake by the River
Soledad is a thriving farming town in the heart of Salinas Valley, California. The town rests east of the Salinas River minutes from Mission Nuestra Senora De La Soledad .
Mission Nuestra Senora De La Soledad was founded in 1791 by the Spanish Catholic Franciscan Order. Soledad is a Spanish word meaning solitude or loneliness.
The fecund soil on the valley floor surrounding the town coupled with the area's warm temperate climate sustains a year-round profitable agribusiness. It provides sustenance for many of the town's inhabitants. Harvest depends on a large community of farm workers, mostly of Mexican and Filipino heritage , and now mostly illegal Latinos.