Saturday, April 21, 2018

New Exhibit - “Georgia Street: Ferries to Dairies – A History of Vallejo’s Main Street”

Georgia Street is not a particularly long street (4.1 miles), nor is it a very old street (some parts only a few decades), but it has thousands of stories to tell. From the ferries that docked at its foot to the dairy farms that once marked its eastern end, Georgia Street encompasses a wide array of building styles, commercial activity, neighbor- hoods, churches, schools, and varied modes of transportation. The history of Vallejo’s “Main Street” is the subject of the Museum’s newest exhibit, on display in the Hall of History through September 1st.
     Vallejo’s infamous “lower Georgia” was once the home of saloons, bordellos, and gambling dens – the playground of sailors on liberty. That gaudy side of our history has been well preserved in the art of Dorothy Herger and the writing of Brendan Riley. But Georgia Street is much, much more. It was also Vallejo’s main shopping district, home to department stores like Sears, J.C. Penney, City of Paris, Levee’s and Crowleys.  Heading further east, today’s “Heritage District” was the home of prominent citizens and eye-catching Victorian architecture. Longtime residents will recall driving over “the Hump” at the railroad tracks. Others will recall that a stretch near the intersection of Georgia and Tuolumne Streets was once mostly populated by Italian families.
     A post-WWII housing boom characterized the stretch of Georgia Street east of Highway 40 (now Interstate 80) and those neighbor-hoods continued to expand in more recent years into the east Vallejo hills. Today, at the easternmost end of Georgia Street, hikers can access the Bay Area Ridge Trail to gain a sense of what the region looked like before the growth of our city. Visit our newest exhibit soon to learn more about this interesting and historic thoroughfare.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

“Eight-Point Perspective: Diverse East Bay Artists” January 20 - March 24, 2018

     A new exhibit in the Museum’s Hall of History features eight East Bay artists working in a variety of media. “Eight-Point Perspective: Diverse East Bay Artists” was organized by Vallejo native Doug Heine, whose work was featured in a solo show at the Museum last spring. Although planning of the exhibit has been underway for several months, finding a connecting theme or narrative for the show was elusive, according to Heine. “Mainly because of the diversity of media and styles of the eight artists, it soon became apparent that this diversity was the theme,” says Heine. “Diversity is what the East Bay is known for, so I hope everyone will enjoy seeing the art and hearing the artists speak about their creations.” Each artist will speak briefly about his/her work at the opening reception on Saturday, January 20 at 1:00 p.m. Here are the artists featured in the exhibit:
    Katie Hawkinson is a Bay Area Abstract Painter with an ongoing interest in color and light, and capturing visually something of what it feels like to be alive. She feels a strong connection to makers and painters from the beginning of time from all over the world.  Katie is inspired by cave paintings, Roman frescoes, Indian miniatures, early American folk art, through twentieth century abstraction and beyond. Katie teaches Painting at Stanford’s Continuing Studies Department and Drawing and Two-dimensional Design at UC Berkeley’s Architecture Department.
       Doug Heine is working with industrial as pigment on aluminum, which can feel like reaching into the unknown. Although an abstraction, the work has an elusive, mysterious quality that harkens to the ever-expanding cosmos.
       Stan Huncilman was born in Indiana. After graduating from high school he left home with no particular destination in mind. His travels led him to stints as a welder in the shipyards of Louisiana and as a machinist in a Vermont foundry. Not long after leaving Vermont he joined the Peace Corps and went to Ecuador to teach in a trade school for orphans. After the Peace Corps he eventually settled in San Francisco California and began his formal art education. He attended San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Art Institute. He received his MFA in Sculpture from the Art Institute in 1984.
       Joseph Slusky is best known for his whimsical painted metal sculptures made from recycled scrap metal. Influences include metal toys, LA car culture, Constructivism and other twentieth century art movements. The sculptures explore realms of the subconscious and are fossilizations of the imagination. Joe taught drawing and three-dimensional design UC Berkeley’s Architecture Department for thirty-two years
       Abstract painting called Bonnie Thomas first, only to be taken later with photography's compositions and focus on the small and minute beauty within the every-day experience. She then began to alter the captured image to discover a unique combination of the orthogonal edge, the organic world and her inner self. The explorations prominent in her latest work are the contrast between dark and light, the chasm between the expressed and unexpressed, and the questions that may represent joy, fear or that part of the human experience which eludes us. With this exploration, she believes the work takes her deeper into the unknown parts of herself within the greater context of the natural order.
       Maren Van Duyn is a senior designer at Scientific Arts (the people that did the giant Glove at AT&T Park). With them she has done large murals at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the natural history section of the Oakland Museum. Earlier she did theatrical sets in New York City.
     Gale Wagner feels his calling as a maker was a gift at birth, followed by the good fortune of living a life full of passion for creating stuff to be shared with others. His sculptures have been many – large & small, heavy & light, solid & hollow. Pure joy in the creative process, coupled with love and respect for all materials used – steel, paper, glass, stainless, copper, bronze, stone, wood, rubber, air, space – always at play with gravity & balance. The hope is that the viewer will feel something.
   John Wehrle has had an extensive career creating site-specific artworks for public spaces. A multi-disciplinary artist, John has fabricated elaborate installation works combining text, painting, photography, ceramic tile or relief sculpture for libraries, banks, buildings, and freeway walls. His critically acclaimed work includes monumental paintings for   the de Young Museum, the Los Angeles Olympics and Berkeley Transit Plaza. “I am an artist who is   most comfortable making large scale narrative paintings in unsuspected places. I put myself in the Western Tradition of Tiepolo, Andrea Pozzo, Breughel, Church, Eakins, the anonymous panoramic painters of the 19thcentury, Hopper and the LA Fine Arts Squad. I like a work that has a sense of mystery, ambiguity. If there is a political message to my work it is probably closest to an anarchist with OCD.  WYSIWYG.

Friday, August 18, 2017

World War One Centennial: Part 3

April 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI – the “war to end all wars.” To commemorate this historic centennial, the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum is featuring an exhibit called “Over There/Over Here” which runs through Labor Day weekend. Following are a few of the interesting local stories featured in the exhibit:

Bay Terrace: U.S. Navy Housing in WWI

During WWI, wartime 
expansion at Mare Island 
sparked the need for 
additional U.S. Navy 
housing in Vallejo. In 1918, the 
new  Georgetown housing 
project was dedicated. The U.S. Post Office soon pressed for a 
name change, since California already had a Georgetown in Placer 
County. Vallejo's "Georgetown" then became known as Bay
The century-old homes, located along Wilson Avenue, are today a 
part of one of Vallejo’s most popular neighborhoods.

Germans Sailors Held at Mare Island

When the United States entered the War in April, 1917, the U.S. government seized all German ships in American ports. Ships in the San Francisco Bay were brought to Mare Island and their crews were interned for the duration of the War.

Included in the exhibit are a bath towel and a toothpick holder from one of those German ships. Also shown is a hand-woven Sennett work ladies purse, made by the German P.O.W.s to pass the time during their internment.

German Ships at Mare Island

Among the German Ships interned at Mare Island during the War were the Halsatian, Pommern, Staatesekretar Kraetke, Elsass and Setos. Many of the German ships were repaired and put into service as American-flagged vessels. However, those repairs often proved costly and labor intensive because the German crew members had frequently sabotaged the vessels prior to their capture.

War Bonds, Liberty Loans and Saving Stamps

How to pay for the War was answered in October, 1917 with the passage of the War Revenue Act that increased personal and corporate income tax rates and established new excise, excess-profit, and luxury taxes. An income gap caused by initial war spending was addressed with short term borrowing in the form of Bonds, Loans and Stamps from the American public.

Local residents were urged to subscribe to Liberty Loans or purchase War Bonds at patriotic rallies such as this one that was held at Mare Island.

Vallejo’s Red Cross Helps with the War Effort

When U.S. involvement in WWI appeared imminent a group of local residents formed a new chapter of the Red Cross to support the War effort. The community rallied and participated in the Production Corps, producing garments and medical supplies for U.S. and Allied forces and citizens caught up in the War.

A new Red Cross building (shown here) was built at the corner of Marin and Capitol Streets, now the site of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.  Local trade unions provided both the material and labor to build the structure.