Local News

Wednesday, Oct 02 2013 03:51 PM

Artists to retrace 'Grapes of Wrath' journey

  1. 1 of 2

    By AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

    A statue of author John Steinbeck stands in the courtyard at the John Steinbeck Library in Salinas, Calif., on Dec. 15, 2004.

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 2

    By AP Photo/National Steinbeck Center, Esmeralda Montenegro Owen

    This undated image provided by the National Steinbeck Center shows the front of the center, which is a museum located in Salinas, Calif. The center is devoted to preserving the legacy of author John Steinbeck, who wrote "The Grapes of Wrath" and many other works.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY KRISTI EATON Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A trio of artists soon will travel from Oklahoma to California, with stops in Arvin and Bakersfield, retracing the steps the Joad family from "The Grapes of Wrath" took as part of the upcoming 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck's novel-turned-film.

The artists -- along with representative from the National Steinbeck Center -- will travel along Route 66 gathering oral histories of people and asking what helps them get through hard times. The group will start in Oklahoma on Oct. 4 and make stops in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. The trip will conclude in California 10 days later.

Related Info


Here is a rundown of the Journey's stop in California:

* Bakersfield -- Oct. 13

5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.: Artists panel discussion with Octavio Solis, P.J. Palmer and Patricia Wakida at the Dezember Reading Room in the Walter Stiern Library at Cal State Bakersfield.

* Arvin -- Oct. 14

10:30 a.m.: Penguin Group Book Truck giveaway and art workshop at the Weedpatch Labor Camp.

1 p.m.: Oral history collection at labor camp.

You can follow the journey at:

* GrapesofWrath75.org

* Twitter.com/steinbeckcenter

* Facebook.com/NationalSteinbeckCenter

* YouTube.com/steinbeckcenter1

* Instagram.com/steinbeckcenter

Source: National Steinbeck Center

"John Steinbeck was very interested in going out and listening to the people and the stories of the people. He got his greatest inspiration for his best work really when he did that," said Colleen Baily, executive director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

The three artists -- playwright Octavio Solis, writer Patricia Wakida and filmmaker P.J. Palmer-- will then use the information and stories to create new work.

The artists will be documenting the journey through social media, blogging and other channels and it will be shared during the 75th anniversary celebration of "The Grapes of Wrath" next year.

"There are so many similarities to what people were facing back in the '30s and what they're facing today," Bailey said, noting environmental challenges and the economy. "We've just been through the Great Recession and I'm not sure we're really all the way through it, so really to hear what people have suffered and what inspires them to keep them moving forward in these times of challenges."

The group is looking for stories from a diverse cross section of people -- young and old, rich and poor. In Oklahoma, stories from Native America will be important, she said.

Different organizations and groups will be holding events in conjunction with the journey. A vintage car show will take place Saturday in Oklahoma City, while live music will be a part of the journey when the group stops in Albuquerque, N.M., next Wednesday.

Wakida, the writer and historian, will be teaching linoleum carving and printing during the journey as well as conducting oral histories with people she encounters. As a fourth-generation Japanese American who grew up in the Central Valley, Wakida said the Joad family's forced migration mirror her family's experience.

During World War II, both her mother and father were forced into American internment camps.

"Those unseen circumstances that can change your destiny are seen throughout American history and are reminders to us all that the cycles of economics, prejudice, and the need to participate in a democratic society are always with us," she said.

Wakida said she hopes to provide people with a chance to share their history and how they overcome obstacles like high unemployment, droughts and floods, healthcare woes and more.

Have something to share? Comment on this story
Today's Daily Deal
Daily Deal Image
El Taco Fresco
$20 worth of Mexican Food for only $10
  • Value
  • Savings
  • Bought
Buy Now