Artists retrace 'Grapes of Wrath' journey for novel's 75th birthday

Drought Forces Water Cutbacks To Southern California Farms

David McNew/Getty Images

A south-bound train passes farm workers shortly after sunrise on October 10, 2007 in the Coachella Valley near Mecca, California.

John Steinbeck's renowned novel "Grapes of Wrath," which documented the lives of farmworkers who took the dustbowl journey from Oklahoma to California, turns 75 this year. In remembrance, a trio of artists have been recreating that trip for the past couple of weeks — recording interviews with people along the way.

The 11-day trip across the country ends Monday at a labor camp in Central California called Weedpatch Camp. The interviews are a collection of stories about what's like to face adversities and find joy during hard times.

Artist and historian Patricia Wakida of Boyle Heights says she spoke with an 83-year-old woman in Flagstaff, Arizona who said she's inspired by watching the sunrise each morning. She admires the varying hues — until it grows too hot. 

"After a certain point, the sun became so bright, it was in her face and it really burned at you and she said it became, in a word, unbearable. And then she said to me, when a circumstance becomes unbearable, you have to change your position," said Wakida of the interview. 

Playwright Octavio Solis and Filmmaker P-J Palmer are also on the journey from Oklahoma to Central California. The new stories will become part of the 2014 Steinbeck Festival in Salinas.

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