My Neighborhood: Olinder Center Mural

Olinder Mural 1This photo essay is inspired by a Facebook suggestion to artists: what do you see in a 15-minute walk from your studio? I have only recently been able to walk that far (another story for another day), but when I do I often stop to admire this beautiful mural which appeared on our local community center several years ago. It is a wonderful distillation of the history of the Santa Clara Valley here in California, beginning with the First Creatures and Peoples, above, through the Mexican vaqueros and beautiful dancer with her swirling skirts, below . . .

Olinder Mural 2. . . and then a tapestry of all the different kinds of peoples who settled this valley . . .

Olinder Mural 3. . . and a glimpse of the bounteous fruits and vegetables that were grown here when it was known as The Valley of Heart’s Delight; more immigrants who brought more kinds of music with them, and then a fascinating abstract of the transformation of this agricultural paradise into what it is known as today, Silicon Valley . . .

Olinder Mural 4. . . the owl-like face with the rotary-telephone dial eye, which somehow, over time (the hourglass) provides the key to the X’s and O’s that became the computer industry, and then through the magical transformation of the double helix strand of DNA winding its way through a very feminine figure to become a rocket ship and an astronaut blasting off into space.

Olinder Mural 5Of course my favorite part of this image (after the beautiful white egret which begins the whole story) is this incredible image of the feminine power of reproduction, held between two uplifted hands, which, when seen from afar and with the shadows and light, can be seen as the head and upraised arms of the classic goddess pose. If you squint your eyes a little you can see the second image embedded in the first. I just love to linger here and see this beautiful goddess in this panorama of our local history – a bit of herstory hidden here.

Olinder Mural goddess detail

I include the artists’ names here, Juan Raul and Erik Urquidi, who I don’t know but hope to meet someday so that I can tell them how much I enjoy their beautiful mural whenever I walk over to Olinder Center, home of the community theatre company both of my kids practically grew up in, and just behind the center, the elementary school they both went to.

Olinder Mural creditsIf I walk the other way, I can cross the bridge to William Street Park, a great green lawn which makes my English heart happy to walk in, and pause on the bridge . . .

Coyote Creek Bridge. . . to admire Coyote Creek from above, here in its winter garb of overhanging trees, with the sunset sky reflected in the water of my beloved backyard river.

Coyote Creek winter
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