Friday, September 9, 2011
The San Gabriel Mission celebrated its 240th anniversary with a fiesta that included mass, a nine mile walk from Pueblo de Los Angeles, blessing of animals, a beauty pageant, a children's costume contest, Tongva storytellers, historical reenactments, traditional crafts, carnival rides, mariachi singers, folklorico dancers, and food. Sadly, I did not avail myself of all of it.
I set up to paint in the shade of a grapevine that is older than all the vineyards in the Napa Valley, and painted a sunny bit of mission wall. The wall holds the Stations of the Cross, and shades memorials to priests and brothers who have served at the mission church.
The history of California is so different from what I consider United States History. Californians spoke Spanish long before they spoke English. California was not part of Thirteen Colonies; it did not participate in the American Revolution or the Civil War. California's first European settlers were not Puritans seeking religious freedom; they were Catholic Missionaries. We had no part in the Boston Tea Party; we came in droves for a Gold Rush. History has to be a huge influence, that and the sunshine.