refreshing ephemera

Calls to action, records of events, protests, memories, rebukes, celebrations… The works in two of our current traveling exhibits are all of these things and more.

Serigrafía is a collection of silkscreen prints that represent the best in visual communication and artistry from California’s Latino/a printmaking community. These prints instantly convey powerful messages with bold images and sparse, but impactful text. Ranging from political and economic to social and cultural, these prints tackle issues, head on, from the personal to the global. They represent topics of concern to Latino/a communities and to all Californians.

Singing the Golden State chronicles California in a different way – through song. As curator James Keller, explains: “At the heart of the show is sheet music of songs and piano pieces published from 1849 through the 1930s. All of it relates to some aspect of the State of California: its exuberant history, immense geography, diverse population, awesome beauty, commerce, politics, disasters, and delights. We encounter episodes in the California story that make us moderns proud and a few we would rather forget. No topic was off limits to our singing ancestors; if something interesting happened, there’s a fair chance somebody wrote a song about it.”

These posters and sheet music reflect their times, creators, and audiences. Here are several examples of how they are symbols of triumph and pride.

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Celebración Día de los Muertos, Leonard Castellanos, 1976, Reproduction Courtesy of the Collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles

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Knowledge Is Power, Ernesto Yerena, 2011, Courtesy of the artist

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San Francisco Fallen, 1906, Courtesy of Society of California Pioneers

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Valse Panama, 1915, Courtesy of James M. Keller

As singular statements, each poster or sheet music stands for something larger than itself. While meant to be ephemeral, remain with us because of their meaning and beauty. These are refreshing objects in these days of quick tweets and posts. They endure.

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