Hobos to Street People compares artistic interpretations of homelessness from the Dust Bowl migrants of the 1930s to the stigmatized street people of today—with a focus on California. Produced in 2008 to mark the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, this exhibition hearkens back to a time in which the United States government responded to the devastating impact of the Great Depression to assist those in poverty.
Over the years, artists have explored different aspects of poverty and homelessness. During the Depression, WPA artists portrayed the lives of the poorest Americans both in "noble" and negative images. The work of artists such as Dorothea Lange often appeared in popular magazines such as Life and Time, profoundly influencing attitudes towards poverty. From World War II through the 1980s, artists tended to portray the homeless as degenerates unworthy of the government's interest. Contemporary California artists, however, are witnessing, documenting, and commenting on today's poverty in ways more akin to the artists of the Depression era. This exhibition reflects this evolution and examines one of the most fundamental of human needs: shelter.
Hobos to Street People features original works by artists who bring a wide range of cultural viewpoints, historical perspectives, and positions on the topic, including Dorothea Lange (featuring works from the de Saisset Museum's permanent collection), Rockwell Kent, Giacomo Patri, Francisco Dominguez, Jane "in vain" Winckleman, Sandow Birk, Art Hazelwood, and the San Francisco Print Collective.
September 15 - November 9, 2012
Richmond Art Center 2540 Barrett Avenue Richmond, CA 94804 www.therac.org/
February 19, 2009 – August 15, 2009
The California Historical Society
678 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 94105
August 30, 2009 – October 25, 2009
UC Merced, Kolligian Library, Merced, CA 95344
December 10, 2009 – February 21, 2010
Bakersfield Museum of Art, 1930 R Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301
October 24, 2010 – December 19, 2010
Corona Public Library, 650 South Main Street, Corona, CA 92882
January 27, 2011 – March 11, 2011
Center for the Arts, Religion and Education, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA
March 20, 2011 – April 22, 2011
Old Courthouse Museum, 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92701
July 31, 2011 – December 4, 2011
de Saisset Museum University of Santa Clara, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
December 18, 2011 – February 12, 2012
Riverside Metropolitan Museum, 3720 Orange Street, Riverside, CA 92501
June 16 – August 5, 2012
Loveland Museum, Loveland Colorado, 503 N. Lincoln Ave. Loveland, CO 80537
September 15 – November 9, 2012
Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804, 510.620.6772 • therac.org
Reception: September 22, 2-4 pm
Panel Discussion: October 13, 2-4 pm
Hobos to Street People, and two other shows curated by Art Hazelwood
Hobos to Street People was at the de Saisset Museum. Two additional shows, (Beyond Hope and Struggle, and This Camera Fights Facsism) curated by Art Hazelwood connecting the political art of the 1930s and today were also on view at the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University.
Social Justice Shows, DeSaisset Museum, Santa Clara University
by: DeWitt Cheng on August 25th, 2011
Hobos to Street People opens at the Bakersfield Museum
speech delivered by Art Hazelwood at the opening reception
you to the Bakersfield Museum of Art for hosting this exhibition.
and a rare
for museums to address issues of poverty. Here we are in the
worst recession since the Depression, and the majority of museums
in the San
area where I live are doing fashion shows. If art is to have
any connection to society, it must demonstrate that connection
in exhibitions like
this. For the issue of homelessness this is particularly true
because the primary
reaction to homelessness, is to pretend it doesn’t exist,
or to make it disappear by criminalizing it. And here a museum
up and saying, look this is a serious issue that needs to be
understood and effectively addressed. I applaud Bernard Herman
and Emily Falke
and the Bakersfield Museum of Art for taking this brave step.
Hobos to Street People is an historical survey. It contrasts
the period of the Great Depression with the era of modern homelessness,
began in the early 1980s. There are many parallels between
the two periods.
If one looks at the homeless encampments along the American
River in Sacramento, and in Fresno today one can only be struck
similarities to the photos of Dorothea Lange. And in the agricultural
fields today the workers live in conditions very similar to
the Depression era images. But of course there are differences.
people in Dorothea
Lange’s photos were primarily economic migrants from
the Midwest. Today the agricultural workers are economic migrants
from the global
The art in this show was created by the artists to make homelessness
visible. And they often used their art in different ways to
get their message out. The art was used as posters, in magazines,
gallery shows, in books, and in Dorothea Lange’s case
as Congressional testimony. And this year several pieces in
show were used as testimony
to the United
Nations Special Rapporteur on housing who was
recently in the US.
Let me give you a few facts to put this in context. During the
Depression six thousand Dust Bowl migrants arrived in California
In 1933 there were more than one million Americans homeless.
Unemployment in 1929 stood at 3% and by 1933, 25% of all workers
were unemployed. Those are pretty alarming numbers and today’s
numbers aren’t great either.
year the US Department of Education estimates nearly 1 million
children will be homeless. Forty million Americans
are living in poverty. This year has
shown a 9 to 12% increase in people in shelters. Unemployment is above 10%
nationwide. Although the real unemployment figure is closer
to 16%. Veterans of the Iraq
and Afghan wars are moving at faster rates into homelessness than ever before
according to the VA. And of course foreclosures are up everywhere. So what
has the Federal Governments response been? Over the last
four years it has cut all
forms of spending on low income housing by two billion dollars, while increasing
spending on homeless assistance by 157 million dollars. The message in other
words is that it isn’t a system wide failure but simply a failure of
individuals. And that is the message driven home again and again. That the
problem of homelessness,
is a problem of broken individuals.
During the Depression there was a different idea. Artists during the
Depression had a sense of the innate nobility of people. They wanted
to show that poor people
who had lost everything still retained their dignity. So you see again and
again, the proud stoic mother in Dorothea Lange’s photos or the determined family
in Rockwell Kent’s prints. And the government responded too. The New Deal
created programs that assisted artists and gave them opportunities to make this
art. But the government also created jobs programs, it addressed the dislocation
of farmers from the Midwest and it created agencies to build housing – laying
the groundwork for the first federal response to homelessness in US history.
At this time of year charity is on a lot of people’s minds. And charity
from individuals is a beautiful thing. But when governments respond to social
disasters with charity…when the federal government is giving blankets
instead of addressing the problems of inadequate housing, or of homeless children
the needs of returning veterans, then charity is merely a mask and a sham to
exhibition is evidence of how artists from the Depression era as
well as today have used their art to provoke action and to assist
in movements towards social justice.
Museum of Art