L.A. Chicana/Chicano Murals under Siege

UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS

¡Murales Rebeldes!—L.A. Chicana/Chicano Murals under Siege
¡Murales Rebeldes!—L.A. Chicana/Chicano
Murals under Siege

Published in association with Angel City Press
Designed by Amy Inouye, Future Studio, Los Angeles
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IN SAN FRANCISCO

April 2018 – August 2018

¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicana/o Murals under Siege

The California Historical Society in San Francisco, in partnership with LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles, presents ¡Murales Rebeldes!, an exhibition and companion publication exploring the ways in which Chicana/o murals in the greater Los Angeles area have been whitewashed, censored, neglected, and even destroyed.

Murals became an essential form of artist response and public voice during the Chicano protests of the 1960s and 1970s. They were a means of expressing both pride and frustration, and challenging the status quo, at a time when other channels of communication were limited for the Mexican American community.

Through photography, sketches, related art works, and ephemera, ¡Murales Rebeldes! tells the stories of murals—by artists Barbara Carrasco, Sergio O'Cadiz Moctezuma, Yreina Cervántez and Alma López, Roberto Chavez, Willie Herrón III, East Los Streetscapers mural collective, and Ernesto de la Loza—whose messages were almost lost forever . . . until this exhibition and publication.

¡Murales Rebeldes! examines the iconography, content, and artistic strategies of eight Chicana/o murals that made others uncomfortable to the point of provoking a contrary response, delving into the murals' creation and disturbing history of obstruction.

Visit the ¡Murales Rebeldes! website

¡Murales Rebeldes! was organized as part of the Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is a museum and cultural center created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors open to the public since 2011. LA Plaza explores the role of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and all Latinos in shaping the Los Angeles of the past, present, and future. These stories come to life through a range of permanent and changing exhibitions as well as educational and public programs.

Major support for the exhibition and related publication is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Annenberg Foundation, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, KCET, and the Ratkovich Family Foundation.

Anton Wagner, Looking North from City Hall Tower, 1933
Anton Wagner, Looking North from City Hall Tower, 1933
Los Angeles: 1932–33 by Anton Wagner, PC 17, California Historical Society
August 2018 - December 2018
California Boomtowns: Photographs of San Francisco and Los Angeles

There is much work to be done in the study of urban photography. So argues Peter Bacon Hales in his seminal book Silver Cities: Photographing American Urbanization, 1839–1939 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005). A great impediment to this work, he writes, is that "most of the photographs—tremendous piles of them, anonymous, undated, lacking captions, often faded and damaged—are buried in the archives of local museums and historical societies."

At the California Historical Society we read these words as a challenge—not only to make our exquisite collections (our well cared for and undamaged collections!) accessible through our research library and digital platforms, but also to interpret them in exhibitions and publications. With our headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Los Angeles, we are acutely aware of the return of residents and businesses to our downtown cores, the building booms currently underway, and the inequities that continue to challenge our cities. We believe we can influence an informed future by bringing the past into contemporary discussions—a project for which we are well suited with vast photography holdings that are strongest in street and city views.

California Boomtowns: Photographs of San Francisco and Los Angeles examines how photographers visualized the promises and perils of urban life in the Golden State's two most prominent cities in the one hundred years following California's achievement of statehood in 1850. Their work encouraged perceptions of California as a civilized place and raised important questions that continue to be relevant today about what cities should look like, how they should be organized, and who they are for. Of course, the answers varied from San Francisco to Los Angeles, at different moments in time and depending on who was behind the camera and why.

Featuring works by both well-known and anonymous photographers, the exhibition invites visitors to look critically at photographs made for a broad range of purposes, from civic boosterism and real estate development, to industry, art, and social reform. The earliest selection is an 1851 daguerreotype panorama picturing San Francisco's harbor. For audiences that paid to see it on display back east, the panorama made visible all the opportunities and abundant natural resources that the push westward promised. Among the later selections is a group of photographs taken by German geographer Anton Wagner who traversed Depression-era Los Angeles on foot with his Zeiss Ikon camera. The hundreds of photographs he made were research material for his 1935 book--the first urban study of the sprawling metropolis—in which he marveled that the city appeared to have "no beginning nor end."

From pictures of San Francisco on fire following the 1906 earthquake to photographs of the nascent Hollywoodland housing development in the 1920s, there are many gems that this exhibition will bring to light. It will be, along with related digital initiatives and public programming, a crucial step in our efforts to bring the history of urban photography in California to the fore.

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