Forestiere Underground Gardens

"Take a subterranean journey to the Mediterranean--in the middle of California !"

“Take a subterranean journey to the Mediterranean–in the middle of California !”

Forestiere Underground Gardens was originally built as a home by Sicilian visionary and self-taught artist/builder Baldassare Forestiere and is considered “a spectacular and unconventional example of vernacular architecture.” The Underground Gardens consist of a network of hand-built underground rooms, courtyards, passageways, grottoes, skylights, arches and stonewalls which are quite reminiscent of ancient catacombs because of Baldassare’s interest in ancient Roman architecture.

Forestiere4

Within the gardens there are very unique fruit producing trees, shrubs, and vines growing all through out the gardens above and underground, some of these plants are even over 90 years old! A majority of these plants are ingeniously protected from frost during our harsh winters due to their placement underground. Many trees in the garden have been grafted in order to bear more than one type of fruit, so a large variety of fruit -ranging from common to exotic- are found throughout the gardens. Another unconventional yet clever addition are the trees and vines that are planted near/on surface openings like skylights, often forming canopies that act as insulation; protecting the gardens from weather and elements.

forestiere-underground-gardens

While in the gardens you can experience the underground micro-climates where temperature variations can range from 10 to 30 degrees less than above ground temperatures! Baldassare was likely thinking the underground gardens would be the perfect escape from Fresno’s infamous summer heat while he was spending numerous hours excavating our equally as infamous valley hardpan. A majority of the excavated dirt was utilized to fill holes and planters, create stones and to level uneven ground. Interestingly enough, the passageways and rooms were built with varying widths to aid airflow by generating pressure and keeping air flowing as it moves through more narrow sections. In addition, cone-shaped skylights allow hot air to be easily pushed up and out while leaving the cool air down below.

forestiere-underground

So, as you can tell, Forestiere Underground Gardens is a very unique and peculiar place, filled with distinctive creations like unconventional handmade architecture and  noteworthy planting and construction techniques. Forestiere Underground Gardens is a place anyone in the world -let alone the valley- can explore, enjoy and appreciate.

 

Fresno Art Museum

FAM

“The Fresno Art Museum offers a dynamic experience for appreciating art. The museum welcomes, inspires, and educates a diverse regional audience through significant exhibitions, thought-provoking programs, and meaningful interactions with artists and the creative process.” -Fresno Art Museum Mission Statement

Museum History as is from the Fresno Art Museum Website (with added pictures)

In the late 1940’s, a group of local artists formed the Fresno Art League to provide a forum to exhibit and critique each other’s work and to share their enthusiasm for art. The League gathered support for their organization from the community and in 1949, the Fresno Arts Center was incorporated. In 1960, after years of planning, the Fresno Arts Center building in Radio Park was dedicated.

Le Monde Créole Exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum
Le Monde Créole Exhibition at the Fresno Art Museum

The Fresno Arts Center became an active venue for art exhibitions and educational programs including artist talks, workshops, and art classes for children and adults. A mission statement, goals, and objectives were developed. The Arts Center was granted accreditation by the American Association of Museums in 1973, after an extensive study of the Center’s organization, finances, staff expertise, programs, care and storage of the permanent collection, and physical facilities. It has maintained its accreditation continuously since then.

Fresno_Art_Museum

Donated and purchased works of art have increased the size and strength of the Fresno Art Museum’s permanent collection over the years. The scope of the collection, which had once included a mummified pigeon from ancient Egypt as well as the work of local artists, was refined over time. It currently has a focus on modern and contemporary works by American artists (painting, sculpture, prints, photographs, and other media). Pre-Columbian works from Mesoamerica and the Andes comprise a significant part of the collection, as do both modern works and folk art of Mexican origin.

pre-columbian
A section of the Fresno Art Museum’s Pre-Columbian Collection

In recognition of the growing extent of the permanent collection, the Board of Trustees in 1985 changed the Center’s name to the Fresno Arts Center and Museum. The name was changed to the Fresno Art Museum in 1988, following a suggestion from the American Association of Museums that was made during the reaccreditation process.

Photography of Jason DeBord
Photo of the Fresno Art Museum by Jason DeBord

The Museum’s exhibitions have included a wide range of visual arts media (painting, sculpture, graphics, photography, and fine crafts such as fiber arts, ceramics, jewelry, glass) by local as well as nationally and internationally known artists. While the Museum is best known for showing modern and contemporary art, exhibitions that reflect the visual arts traditions of the ethnic groups that contribute to the rich diversity of the Central Valley have been part of the exhibition schedule from the early years. Cultural and issue-related exhibitions in a variety of artistic media have been given increased prominence in recent years.

 

Dry Creek Trailhead

dry creek trailhead 3

Dry Creek Trailhead is located at the Southwest corner of the Sunnyside/Shepherd Intersection. Between the drought-resistant layout and amenities, it’s clear that the City of Clovis had the community in mind during planning and construction. Nowadays, when it comes to building a new community recreation area, water conservation plays a large role considering the current and intense drought. This trailhead was specifically constructed with the drought in mind, and in turn there is no grass or water-loving plants there. It is supposed to be quite water-efficient and according to Clovis’ Director of Planning and Development, Dwight Kroll, “It’s going to use about 10 percent of the water that you would normally have in a parks space of this size”.

dry creek trailheaddry creek trailhead 4

The appropriately-deemed trailhead (not a park) is equipped with four restrooms, several water fountains, two picnic areas with tables, and two bike repair/pump stations.

To aid in safety, the installation of police surveillance cameras and lighting were added throughout the trailhead. The Dry Creek Trailhead acts as a hub for fitness-friendly families, walkers/joggers/runners, the ever-increasing amount of cycle enthusiasts or even just people looking for a transportation alternative. This trailhead is a focal point for anyone using trails like Dry Creek, Enterprise and/or Fresno Sugar Pine, not to mention the two proposed/future trails.

Other future additions to the Clovis trails network include a possible suspension bridge at the 168 & Temperance along with extended and new trails.

For a map of Clovis trails, parks, landmarks & more click here.