With Los Angeles State Historic Park closed for construction, park staff has been spending a lot of time visiting neighboring parks and participating in off-site programs and events. One of the most exciting recently was the grand opening of Marsh Park’s 6 acre extension. The opening of Phase-2 was inspirational as we wait for the completion of LASHP and look forward to our own grand opening next summer. The event drew community members, partner agencies, and elected officials including Senator Kevin De Leon, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and California State Assembly member Jimmy Gomez in celebration of the new park and ongoing Los Angeles River revitalization efforts.
The following week, the Mountains and Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA), who manage Marsh Park, offered a screening of Ken Burns’ short documentary, “Yosemite: Gathering of the Spirit.” The film commemorates 150 years of California State Parks, beginning with the preservation of Yosemite, originally as a State Park, in 1864. MRCA Naturalist Andy Bleckinger and National Park Service Ranger Anthony Bevilacqua welcomed State Parks’ participation and MRCA’s Junior Rangers shared their recent first-hand experiences visiting Yosemite National Park.
On August 24th , 2014 Los Angeles artist Rafa Esparza, shared the stage for a dramatic sunset performance with choreographer and dancer Rebeca Hernandez at Michael Parker’s: “The Unfinished” at the Bowtie Parcel. After working on the site with his family for several weeks, Rafa’s residency at the Bowtie Parcel was completed in this performance prompted by historical precedents of labor dynamics and power referenced in The Unfinished. With the assistance of his father, mother, four brothers and his sister, the family labored together making adobe bricks at the site for 3 weeks, working long hours in the hot sun. Using water from the LA River in an intensive process learned from his father, Rafa and family made over 1500 adobe bricks to completely cover the 137 foot long obelisk. This adobe brick making technique was mastered by the elder Esparza in his hometown of Ricardo Flores Magon in Durango, Mexico.
Rebeca Hernandez and dancers performed along the obelisk in flannel shirts depicting workers struggle. Reflecting the setting sun with a mirror, Rafa cast light onto the dancers as they moved along the obelisk and the sun set on the Los Angeles River.
Rafa’s exploration of labor continued during the performance as he pulled himself across the obelisk, often scraping his body in a visceral reference to the struggle of natives peoples.
With the sun completely set and darkness falling, Rafa concluded his performance in a ceremonial fashion by burning sage and victoriously throwing the crowning adobe brick from the tip of the obelisk.
Thank you to Rafa Esparza, Rebeca Hernandez, Michael Parker, Mackenzie Hoffman, Elizabeth Sonenberg, and Clockshop for bringing this memorable and moving performance to the Bowtie.
California State Parks and National Park Service partners at our Community Outreach Office in El Pueblo de Los Angeles were fortunate to receive a visit by Hale Sargent, the Interpretive Specialist with National Park Service for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Hale shared new interpretive projects and materials associated with Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Specifically, Hale presented a new binder with paintings and drawings by Laura Cunningham, illustrating some of the struggles the de Anza Expedition faced upon its 1,210 mile journey to reach Alta California and populate present day San Francisco.
Juan Bautista de Anza is most famous in California for leading this inland expedition through New Spain (California) in 1774 to the San Francisco Bay. De Anza left Sinaloa and Sonora to head north with permission from the Spanish King. The Anza Trail is significant to California State Parks in Los Angeles, in that its route closely follows the Los Angeles River near our downtown parks. De Anza’s goal was to reach San Francisco and thwart a possible invasion by Russia into California. De Anza established the northernmost Spanish outpost and layed the sites for Mission San Francisco de Asis and Presidio de San Francisco. Later, Jose Joaquin Moraga who was left to establish El Presidio de San Francisco as De Anza returned to Mexico in 1777. On his return voyage, de Anza located the sites for Mission Santa Clara de Asis and the town of San Jose de Guadalupe (Present day San Jose, CA)
Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming Senator Kevin de Leon to the Los Angeles State Historic Park office and providing him with an update on the park development project at LASHP. Superintendent Sean Woods gave Senator de Leon a tour of the LASHP construction site and later Rio de Los Angeles State Park where they met with community members to talk about the future of State Parks in Los Angeles. And a big thank you Timm Herdt with the Ventura County Star for the great article about LA State Parks and the Senator’s visit.
While construction continues at Los Angeles State Historic Park, volunteers are hard at work at our State Park around the corner, Rio de Los Angeles. Park Champions is a volunteer program managed by California State Parks Foundation, State Parks’ greatest ally and non-profit advocate. On this warm Wednesday, Park Champions worked in partnership with our long term volunteer group Las Abuelas del Rio, pulling invasive plants to restore the native riperian habitat and beautify the park. Stay tuned for information on upcoming volunteer projects as we continue the slow but steady progress of habitat restoration at Rio. And, check back periodically for updates on the Los Angeles State Historic Park construction, also proceeding at a slow but steady pace this summer. We’re looking forward to a beautiful new park this time next year!