Project Update: Valley of Shadows and Dreams

Scheduled for publication in May 2012, our project about the Great Central Valley is coming together. With a working title of Valley of Shadows and Dreamsthe book explores this dynamic and important region, which is often difficult to capture. We know we are on the right track, though. Thomas Steinbeck (yes, the son of John Steinbeck) has been supportive of our vision and has contributed a piece of his own to the book. He shares his father’s sentiment that the role of a writer is to reconnect people with their own sense of humanity. This book, in its own way, aims to do just that.

We are also proud to announce that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has acquired nine of the photographs Ken Light made for this body of work, in part through the generosity of Suzie Katz and her nonprofit, PhotoWings. Ms. Katz has been a major supporter of the publication of this book, which we hope becomes a lasting documentation of the quickly changing early twenty-first century valley.

The image we are showing here, “Fiesta Club at Midnight, 2007,” is one of the images acquired by SFMOMA. It was taken at a Tulare dance hall where farmworkers threw off their cares and worries and danced to the earsplitting music of a mariachi band so large it nearly filled the dance floor. Outside, people chatted, smoked, and ate from a food truck parked in the lot. The magic of the nightclub worked its charm, as it does everywhere. Men and women inhabited a better version of themselves, leaving behind the crushing concerns of money, La Migra, and lasting work. Here men were handsome and powerful in their cowboy hats and matching boots and belts. The women were beautiful and alluring in their high heels, tight tops, and jeans. The future looked better and brighter.

Stay tuned for more bits from the valley and the appearance of our book.

Melanie and Ken Light

Fiesta Club at Midnight, 2007

“Fiesta Club at Midnight, 2007” © Ken Light, 2007.