Dear Pearl, I know it might seem weird to have an art center named after you. But it’s more that that, you see. It’s about family, too. Pearl is a nonprofit organization where history and art come to life. And it’s inspired by the legacy of your life and the story of your family, passed down over four generations. So when I named it, I knew there were big shoes to fill. No, I know you had small feet. But it’s an expression. I knew that I had quite the high standards to live up to if I were to name anything in your honor, especially a lofty endeavor such as this.
So, here are my goals for this new creative arts center, named after you, dear aunt. 1) Inspire community members and local artists through interactive historical exhibits. 2) Foster creative expression among individuals and groups of artists by providing a space to come together to support each other and learn from one another. 3) Celebrate artist achievements, historical topics, and the community of local artists.
But how can people participate? I want community members to bring their creative ideas to life with our help. I want to provide the tools needed to pursue artistic endeavors related to history, on any scale – from personal family history to locations past and present, to relics of the past either in photo form or as simple as a rolling pin or crochet needle. I want to be the space where people of all ages can explore their ideas and bring them to life. Eventually I’d like to have one-of-a-kind create-stations for everyone to work on their projects.
And yes, I will depend on volunteers. In the spirit of teaching, and giving back, we will always be looking for resident artists to share their expertise to host a hands-on workshop or hang out during creative hours to help community artists troubleshoot their projects. I’ll tell them to just send us a message and availability or desired date of volunteering and take it from there.
Yes, Pearl, we are doing it. We are going to provide opportunities to develop the following artistic projects: Visual Arts: Photography, Graphic Design, Mixed Mediums Performing Arts: Video Production, Live Theater Music: Recording Studio for Musicians and Producers And more!
We hosted our nonprofit’s first tea party fundraiser in your name! Alongside our partners at the Murrieta Valley Historical Society, with a $1,000 grant from Let’s Choose Love, and with a whole lotta community sponsors, donations from community members, and volunteer efforts of the most selfless folks you’d ever meet, we DID IT PEARL!!!! We had the BEST local musicians – harpist Kylene Grace followed by the trio Leather and Boogie, who took the stage and delighted the room with their talents.
Our goal was to sell 100 tickets and engage as many local artists, businesses and ordinary folks as we could to come together to learn about Murrieta’s railroad history, to get dressed up and enjoy a day with friends, family, and neighbors, and to show support for our efforts to open Murrieta’s first cultural arts center in our downtown historic district, at the site of the former train depot, and from inside an actual train car from our friends at the Southern California Railway Museum in nearby Perris, California. (Whew, was that all one sentence???)
We kept ticket prices at $50 each to keep it accessible, and then offered 10% discounts during two different flash sales, engaged in two different ticket giveaway events open to the community, as well as provided complimentary tickets to key community members and volunteers who showed up to offer their time and services to make the event truly memorable. When a lacemaker reached out to offer her time, we were more than thrilled to provide the chance to see a live lacemaking demonstration, which was a highlight for many in attendance!
In addition to our crew of volunteers who came out from our local arts council, downtown business district, library, and historical society, we had the good fortune to receive help from our local National Charity League chapter of mothers and daughters to set up the room, prepare the 3-tiers, and bring out all the tea and treats; as well as handle the cleanup for 300+ antique dishes (which was a feat in itself)!
The silent auction featured over 30 baskets and although minimum bids were in place, our goal was to keep a variety of price point items to allow everyone to participate! It was a success and we cleared out the lot, with many happy winners taking home cherished items and experiences, such as recording studio time, yoga + sound bath, personal harp session (which was promptly booked for a 100 Women Who Care event coming up!), plus so many more gifts from our incredible community.
So, how does one measure success?
Truth be told, the money is important but the community involvement and support was the real mark of success! To get 100 folks to show up in 90+ degree heat in the last weekend before schools go back in session; to get 99% of them to DRESS UP and take it to the n-th level making me feel underdressed (I have soooo much still to learn and acquire in the steampunk cosplay genre…Like a teacup holder for my belt!!! And the cool belt!!!); to successfully setup up and cleanup in the limited time we booked at the community center in order to stretch our budget (note to future self: 1 hour of cleanup time is NOT enough, IYKYK); to hear how many folks have been looking forward to this event and asking about when we are doing it again!!! <- These are the true victories of the day!
And then, there is the “other” important part in helping achieve the goals we set forward and announced to the community… and we DID THAT TOO!!!! We raised over $6,000 in donations through ticket sales, silent auction, and donations from local key community members and businesses (donations are still trickling in so we will have an official count soon!). We are proud to share a portion of this total with our Murrieta Valley Historical Society who runs the local Murrieta Museum adjacent to the Community Center where this event was held. They are the community’s unsung heroes, championing historic preservation and going above and beyond in their efforts to keep records of our city’s past and to engage directly with the longest standing residents of our community, the true pioneer families of the valley – just like you were, Pearl, when you came to California in 1894 on the railroad as a new bride!
We will continue to negotiate the purchase a rail car, and seek engineering reports for the site we hope to park the train, so that we can move ahead towards seeking official city approval for this project! Alongside that effort, we will be working out train car refurbishment details which will include the opportunity to sponsor a train window, brick sponsorships for the pathway leading up the train car once placed, as well as other chances to volunteer hands on for events like a park clean up day at the site, and public awareness pop-ups at local events.
And of course, the biggest announcement to answer all the questions we received: we look forward to making this tea party an ANNUAL AFFAIR!!! We will start looking for dates for next year’s Lace & Locomotives tea party fundraiser because this was too fun not to do again! And again!
Thank you Pearl for inspiring me to bring this dream to life, and thank you to our truly incredible community for helping us to bring history and art to life at this event! We couldn’t do it without all of the support, and we wouldn’t want to!!!
And so it is with great pride and excitement that we officially announce this amazing project! Auntie, I know you know how important this mission is to me, and you’ve been following along since the moment it went from idea to reality, and you of all people know what I REALLY mean when I write “Murrieta Train Project”. You know it’s a wild ride figuring out how to raise money to relocate an actual historic train car to our downtown Murrieta, and to work with the city for the benefit of our community in seeking the perfect location at our future “Pioneer Park” and former location of the old Murrieta Depot where the train ran through.
So, how does this fit in with “Let’s Choose Love” and their mission? They want to help bring our community together for a day of inclusive and educational fun at the heart of our historic downtown, to help US achieve the unfulfilled dream for downtown Murrieta’s Pioneer Park, and to help our community have a place to come together to share stories and create things (our own NEW history in the making)! The mentors at Let’s Choose Love know that sometimes all it takes is ONE PERSON to believe in you and that can make the WORLD of difference in allowing us to be our best selves and to serve the world around us when we see an unmet need, and a need that we want to fulfill!
So, Pearl, it’s with much excitement and honor and responsibility that I ask our new and loyal patrons to join us in August and celebrate our shared love for Murrieta and the dream of making it even LOVE-lier with a train and a park! (And our cultural arts enter at the heart of it all). In your honor, and in honor of all the ancestors who paved the way ahead of us, we are doing our best to don the Victorian apparel with a Steampunk twist, and party for a purpose. Because of the grant from Let’s Choose Love, we are able to make this happen. And Pearl, thank YOU. Thank you for inspiring not just me, but a whole bunch of us, to make a difference in the lives of those we love.
So much has happened, where do I start? Well, as you know, TRAINS! No, I didn’t just have a spasm, but I am super excited about our next endeavor. What do I mean by caps-shouting TRAINS?
It’s true, trains have been central to our history, and specifically YOUR history, dear Aunt. Will travelled by train to Bingham Lake, Minnesota to become your husband. You travelled together to California on a train to start a new life. And when it was time (a mere 6 months later), your dear husband mercifully brought you back home to your parents aboard a train, a ride you knew would be your last.
But I’ve learned not to be sad for you, and in your honor I want to help pay tribute and homage to all of our pioneer families who lived and died by rail. I want to bring a real train to our city of Murrieta. (And that’s what I mean when I caps-shout TRAIN!) I feel a calling that it should be placed near the site of the old Murrieta train depot, where the history of the location can be brought back to life to honor our local history.
When I think of what you endured, Pearl, and when I read your letters from 1894 detailing the hope you held onto in the midst of suffering, it brings me to tears and it also brings me great strength. Some people might find that funny, but I think that’s what you would have liked about me, not the fact that I am overly sentimental, but the fact that I care so very deeply and that I muster up all the willpower from deep within with a fierce determination to accomplish anything that will help others. (Although as a schoolteacher, you would be disappointed with my run-on sentences!)
I know the road getting there (as in acquiring and moving a TRAIN) is neither quick nor easy (nor even realistic to most other people). But, like you, I have a spirited will that drives me to serve others and follow my passion along the way. And in this endeavor, I am driven to provide our community with (a really cool and freaking awesome train)a unique cultural arts center in the heart of our historic downtown, that also happens to be an old train car.
As I work out the details of this wild dream, wish me luck! I know you are rooting for me, and I want to make you proud. Tell Fanny and Pa hi, and hug my grandpa for me if you can. And until then, toot toot!
You might remember the sudden shift in weather when the winds turn cold and the air becomes dry and harsh. Maybe you went back home to Minnesota before the chill came about here. You probably would have thought it mild compared to your former home. I often sit and wonder about you and the things that occupied your days and what kind of thoughts you had when your mind wandered. But then I snap out of my daydream and remember that there is work to be done!
But before I set out to DO MORE THINGS, I want to honor you, Pearl, with a pause. A moment so still it’s as if the whole world has stopped spinning just for a split second. In this silence, I want to share my gratitude with you. See, it’s not just about you and me, Pearl. We have brought something special to the community. And so this gratitude is shared with you, and with everyone.
Thank you for supporting me and for encouraging me. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for talking to me. Thank you for smiling. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank you for wearing your Pearl pins. Thank you for donating. Thank you for being inspired to create your own art. Thank you for taking a dull day and making it better, just by being you and by being in the world.
It may seem silly, but sometimes it’s easier to research genealogy than to try to get along with the living. But I don’t study the past just to avoid my current reality. I look to the past to try to better understand the present. To try to plan for a brighter future. I paint family photos because there is something calling me to do so. There is so much to know, so much to share. And maybe in a small or big way, knowing will help bring us closer.
All of us.
And it’s with this gratitude and this lofty goal of unity and preservation, that I try to honor you, my family. And it’s with this community that I get to learn and grow and inspire others to look to the stories of their past to inspire strength and courage for the future. I am so grateful for the time I have spent with my own mother on this adventure, learning from our shared past, and trying to understand the lessons from our ancestors.
I do hope to live up to my lofty goals, in your name, and in the names of the hundreds of kin who came before you to bring us all here together today. And I thank you for the gift of family, and the unique stories we get to share in your name and in the names of those who came before and after you.
Dear Pearl, I must admit the “paperwork” part of setting up a nonprofit is less fun than the creative stuff I am eager to jump into. But first things first. I try to look to your example for patience, and my fondness for learning. I know it is bringing me closer to my goal of establishing an actual place to do all the fun things. When I need a break, I take a short break. When I need help, I seek it out. I am driven to do this, and sometimes it’s overwhelming, but in a good way. And I am so thankful for the community around me who has showered me with support and encouraged me to move forward with this dream. So, first things first. My paperwork has been filed. My calendar is filling with upcoming events. And I’m seeking the courage to really step outside my comfort zone and begin to truly fundraise for the cause of opening an actual space. You may, or may not, know that I would love to purchase a train caboose to serve as our creative arts center. Being creative, I am also seeking shipping containers that could be made to look like a train caboose. Simultaneously, I am seeking a space to park my caboose, so to speak. I know what it’s going to take to bring this ghost of a vision to life, and I am committed to our community. I know what’s coming next, and I know you will support me in my awkward, humble, and sincere efforts to raise money for our nonprofit, and use those funds to create a one-of-a-kind space where history and art come to life. Your niece, Aimee
Dear Pearl, I need to find you a home, don’t I? I am searching for trains, trailers, vacant spaces and sponsors, and of course grants to bring this dream to life. I know it sounds crazy, Pearl, but the dream is to have a SPACE for artists to get in touch with their family history and be creative. I love taking you out to old town, but sometimes it’s too hot, and sometimes it’s too cold, and well, I would love to show you off and represent our mission every day of the week, and I know it’s possible! Wish me luck! I need it! Aimee
Dear Pearl, You would be so proud of me, auntie! The Murrieta Public Library and Pearl Center for Creative Arts and the Murrieta Arts Council (MAC) are joining together to host a Teen Art Contest and award reception on July 8, 2022. The theme combines reading a book about a journey across the ocean with re-creating a book cover on 8 x 10 canvas boards with acrylic paints, provided free of charge by the library, and with support from Pearl and MAC.
Staying true to the mission, we are working together to provide 100 art kits to be given out at the library during special dates and times, and those who return their completed paintings will enter the contest. I will be hosting an art exhibit! Dreams are coming true, and by that I mean being able to lift up other artists in the community and give them a space to be artsy! Paintings will be on display at a public reception in the library garden and a panel of judges from our community will award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Light refreshments and snacks will be served for our artists, family, and community members celebrating our Teen Art Contest. I know this is just the beginning, Pearl. I know we are going places together. And by that I definitely mean going back to the library to host more events. You’d be so proud. At least I hope you would. Your loving niece, Aimee
Dear Pearl, I hope you are proud! After months of planning and painting I get to reveal this giant postcard dedicated to Murrieta. I wanted folks near and far to know they have arrived at the Murrieta Museum in Historic Downtown Murrieta. I can’t even begin to describe the honor it is to create a tribute to this community and the organization that shares the heart of our mission – the Murrieta Museum, run by the Murrieta Valley Historical Society. Pearl, you would love these wonderful people. And they love you. Well, they love the stories I share with them about you. These fine volunteers work to preserve not only relics, but the stories of our community and the generations who came before us. I hope this mural helps encourage people to stop by the museum to learn about Murrieta. It’s right next door the the community center and across the street from Fire Station #1 on Juniper. Oh Pearl, why am I telling you this? Of course you probably already know, because I can feel you smiling down at me and shaking your head, but in the kindly sort of way. Do stop by. It’s a beautiful day. Your niece, Aimee