Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stockton: Sad Jewel of the Central Valley

OMF and I decided to do something we've been discussing for years but I've never been tremendously enthusiastic about. Visit the Haggin Museum. Why I've been uninterested I couldn't say. Part of me always thought it was an auto-museum which was probably part of why it held limited appeal. Beyond that it's anyone's guess.

Check him out here. Lovin' Stockton!

I'm glad we went. It's a lovely museum with a surprisingly solid collection which includes some nice works by Rosa Bonheur, Renoir, and Gauguin, along with a stunning selection of objets d'art. Actually I was maybe more taken by Mrs. Haggin's vanity case than some of the paintings I saw. Well that and this crazy quilt.

During WWII Stockton highschoolers embarked on an effort to raise enough money to provide a Jeep a week to the war effort. In the end they raised $250,000, the equivalent of a few million today. Once the Jeeps were dispatched the students asked that they be sent updates on how the Jeeps were doing. I love that this soldier sent his missive on some racy, racy paper. VA VA VA VOOM!

The Leyendecker show is great. Perhaps as great is getting to look at his original canvases complete with pencil lines. Sometimes I think artists who are essentially illustrators but try to pretend that they aren't do themselves a disservice by not accepting what they're drawn to and refining it. Illustration gets a bad rap these days and when it's done well it can be really amazing. Not everything has to be fine art.

The Haggin's hall of fire power.

Rad copper printing block, reminding me that Verge's printmaking facility is working out its kinks as I type this!

The precursor to USA Against Racism. This sampler was done by a woman in a mental institution in Stockton at the later end of the 19th century. It's pretty killer. 

And now for the Stockton-y part of Stockton. It's a bummer folks. A big old fat bummer. Right across the street from the museum facing Victory Park is this huge mansion just sitting derelict. Lawn dead, fountain cracked and falling over in the front yard, looking sad. This would be like walking around McKinley or Land Parks and seeing one of those grand houses looking abandoned and shitty. It would be really weird and this was really weird. 

Typically I buzz in and out of Stockton. Manny's California Fresh, maybe the Salvation Army on Pershing and we're out. This time we really painted the town red with multiple thrift stores in different neighborhoods all totally depressing. Stockton is far more desolate than I thought. Parts of it reminded me of Gallup, NM where no matter what part of town you're in there are sad faced people laying on the street looking shattered. As we moved into the late afternoon I started getting pretty bummed out.

By the end of the day it was come home or find something cheerful about Stockton in order to end our trip on a high note. I'm glad we chose the latter and headed to the Waterloo Club, 8 miles outside of Stockton featuring outstanding Bloody Marys, and homemade pesto. Super, super, good! 

Two Bloody Marys mean this crappy photo I downloaded off Tripadvisor is the best thing I have to work with. You get the idea. Check it out. It's good!

So there ya have it, solid museum, excellent food, hit or miss thrifting and the overbearing fog of desperation one would expect from a city that just declared bankruptcy. Me n' OMF... We know how to party!

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