Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On view @ Sonoma County Museum through 1/30/11 - Bittersweet Harvest: Braceros Program

Photos by Leonard Nadel
Collection of National Museum of American History
The “Bittersweet” Struggle of the Bracero Is Revealed in a New Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition

In 1943, President Roosevelt announced the creation of what would become the largest Mexican guest-worker program in U.S. history. Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964, a new bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition debuting at the National Museum of American History and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), will explore this chapter of American history. The exhibition will be on view at the museum Sept. 9 through Jan. 3, 2010, and will then travel to museums around the country on a two-year, multicity tour.

Facing labor shortages on the home front during World War II, the United States initiated a series of agreements with Mexico to recruit Mexican men to work on American farms and railroads. The Emergency Farm Labor Program, more familiarly known as the Bracero Program, enabled approximately 2 million Mexicans to enter the United States and work on short-term labor contracts.

“SITES is deeply gratified to share with the nation a central part of American labor history of which so few are aware,” said Anna Cohn, director of SITES. “The story of the bracero is rooted in hope and determination. It is a testament to the enduring contributions that Mexicans and Mexican Americans have made to American life.”

The exhibition explores the braceros’ contributions to communities in Mexico and the United States, the opportunities that became available to braceros and the challenges that they faced as guest workers during the war years and afterward. Included in the exhibition are 15 free-standing banners featuring oral histories, quotes and photographs by Leonard Nadel, a photographer who, in 1956, exposed employer violations endured by many braceros. The Nadel photos inspired the museum’s work on Bittersweet Harvest and the Bracero History Project, which also includes audio clips of former braceros relating their experiences. The firsthand accounts were collected as part of the project’s oral-history initiative.

“This exhibition allows us to explore complex issues of race, class, community and national origin while highlighting the irrefutable contributions by Mexican Americans to American society,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “‘Bittersweet Harvest’ is a unique opportunity to share an important but overlooked chapter in American history with visitors across the country.”

Two versions of Bittersweet Harvest will travel through the country through 2011. Scheduled stops include the Alameda National Center for Latino Arts and Culture in San Antonio: El Museo Latino in Omaha, Neb.; Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas; and the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas.

Accompanying the exhibition is a Web site with transcripts, audio files of all of the oral histories, photos, essays, bibliographies and teaching resources. Developed by the Center for New Media at George Mason University, the Web site features a section where braceros and their families can contribute their own stories. The Web site is located at

Bittersweet Harvest is organized by the National Museum of American History and organized for travel by SITES. Funding is made possible through the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, which celebrates Latino culture, spirit and achievement in America by facilitating the development of exhibitions, research, collections and education programs. For more information, visit

The Sonoma County Museum
425 7th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 579 1500

For more info on this exhibition, visit the Smithsonian website

Visit the Bracero History Archive

Smithsonian Secretary on Bittersweet Harvest

Monday, December 20, 2010

On View @ CJM - Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker

Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680),
Louise-Marie Gonzaga de Nevers? (1611–1667),
Queen of Poland, 17th century, oil on canvas.
Collection of Marei von Saher, heir of Jacques Goudstikker.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum presents an exhibition of rarely seen Old Master paintings entitled Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker. Reclaimed reveals the extraordinary legacy of Jacques Goudstikker, a preeminent art dealer in Amsterdam, whose vast collection of masterpieces fell victim, and was almost lost forever, to the Nazi practice of looting cultural properties during World War II.

In 2006, after years of working with a team of art historians and legal experts, Goudstikker’s family successfully reclaimed 200 of his paintings from the Dutch government – one of the largest claims to Nazi-looted art ever resolved. Featuring nearly 45 of the finest examples of the recovered art, along with original documents and photographs, the exhibition reveals Goudstikker’s influence as a collector, art dealer, tastemaker and impresario; and celebrates the historic restitution of the artworks to the rightful heir. Also included are original documents and photographs relating to Goudstikker’s life. The Museum will have on view an interactive touchscreen computer version of Goudstikker’s notebook, which inventoried the bulk of his gallery’s holdings at the time he fled the Netherlands. Visitors will be able to see each page of this extraordinary document while viewing images of the paintings that Goudstikker referred to in the notebook.

Jacques Goudstikker (1897-1940) was one of the most important and influential art dealers in Europe during the period between the First and Second World Wars. The Goudstikker Gallery, located in a grand house on one of Amsterdam’s prominent canals, dealt primarily in Dutch Old Masters from the Golden Age, yet also offered other Northern European and Italian paintings. Goudstikker catered to leading collectors of his day, selling paintings not only to Dutch museums (such as the Mauritshuis in The Hague, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam), but also to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and to Andrew Mellon for the then-fledgling National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. A natural impresario, Goudstikker delighted in organizing national as well as international art fairs, festivals, and exhibitions, some of which had enduring significance for the history of art and a profound influence on collecting patterns. He was responsible for what was, at the time, the largest exhibition of Peter Paul Rubens’s art in the Netherlands, and the only show ever of the landscapes of Salomon van Ruysdael, among others.

As prominent members of society, Jacques and his wife Dési entertained lavishly in their villa outside the city and at their country estate, Nyenrode Castle on the Vecht River. Yet this luxurious and exuberant life would soon be a lost moment in time. Due to the rising threat of the Third Reich and because he was Jewish, Goudstikker was forced to flee the Netherlands with his wife and their year-old son, Eduard (nicknamed “Edo”), in May 1940 shortly after the Nazi invasion. Jacques died in a tragic accident on board ship while escaping by sea.

Left behind was Goudstikker’s collection of approximately 1,400 works of art, the bulk of which were taken to Germany after the looting of the Goudstikker Gallery by Herman Göring, Hitler’s second in command and a rapacious art collector. Göring’s henchman, Alois Miedl, ran the gallery throughout the war under the Goudstikker name, profiting from its remaining stock of artworks and respected reputation.
When World War II ended, over 200 Goudstikker paintings were located by the Allies in Germany and returned to the Netherlands with the expectation that they would be restituted to the rightful owner. Despite Dési’s efforts to recover them, the Dutch government kept the works in its national collections. Eventually, Dési and her second husband, A.E. D. von Saher, who adopted Edo, left the United States, where they had settled, to return to the Netherlands, where she died in 1996. Edo survived her by only a few months.

Edo’s widow, Marei von Saher, initiated the claims process for restitution in 1997 at a time of renewed interest in restituting Nazi-looted artworks in the Netherlands and after new information about the fate of the Goudstikker collection became available to her. The small black notebook Jacques Goudstikker had used meticulously to inventory his collection was found with him at the time of his death and later became a crucial piece of evidence in the battle to reclaim his art. Finally, after a nearly decade-long battle, the Dutch government agreed on February 6, 2006 to restitute 200 of the paintings looted by the Nazis.

Jacques Goudstikker’s inventory included Italian Renaissance works, early German and Netherlandish paintings, 17th-century Dutch Old Masters, French and Italian Rococo artworks, and 19th-century French and Northern European paintings. Although his offerings became increasingly diverse – he can be credited with expanding the Dutch art market as well as collectors’ tastes – his specialty remained Northern Baroque art.

Highlights in the exhibition include Jan Wellens de Cock’s Temptation of Saint Anthony, a splendid river landscape by Salomon van Ruysdael, a rare early marine painting by Salomon’s nephew Jacob van Ruisdael, an atmospheric Winter Landscape with Skaters by Jan van Goyen, and Jan van der Heyden’s View of Nyenrode Castle on the Vecht – the country estate that Goudstikker himself owned and opened to the public each summer in the 1930s. Also on view are excellent still life paintings and portraits such as Hieronymus Galle’s Still Life with Flowers in a Vase and Ferdinand Bol’s Louise-Marie Gonzaga de Nevers.

In addition to viewing fine paintings, museum visitors will be offered an opportunity to reflect on the inequities of war, the looting of cultural property during the Holocaust, and ongoing efforts to recover artworks stolen during World War II. “This is a rare chance to tell the extraordinary story of restitution,” says Connie Wolf, Executive Director of the Contemporary Jewish Museum. “It’s a poignant story that resonates today as looting of artworks continues in conflicts around the world. We are thrilled to have these remarkable masterpieces on view for Bay Area audiences to see and experience.”

General Information

The CJM is open daily (except Wednesday) 11 AM – 5 PM and Thursday, 1 – 8 PM.
For more info please visit or call 415.655.7800.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street (between 3rd & 4th streets)
San Francisco.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Historic Libations Tonight @ 6! Tickets will be sold at the door!

Come celebrate the season with the California Historical Society!
Friday December 17, 2010
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Tickets are available at:
CHS Members $40
Non-members $50

Come celebrate the season with the California Historical Society. 

Historic Libations features legendary cocktails from across the state, including favorites such as the Boothby whiskey punch, the Revolver, Moscow Mule and the Martinez. La Melodita will provide live tango, gypsy jazz, blues entertainment at 7:30 p.m. Learn a little about the history of mixed drinks, and indulge in notable concoctions, as members of the United States Bartenders Guild craft cocktails. All attendees will receive their very own copy of the Anchor Distilling Co. edition of Cocktail Boothby's American Bartender.

Event Sponsors include: Apertifs Bar Management, Anchor Distilling, Elixir Saloon, United States Bartenders Guild and The Sentinel.  For more information, or to purchase tickets by phone please call 415-357-1848 x 229. or email

California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco

Friday, December 10, 2010

Upcoming Events at The San Mateo County History Museum

January 22, Saturday at 1 pm
The Architectural History of Suburbia at the San Mateo County History Museum
Association members; $3 - $5 general admission.

Architect and historian Alan Hess presents The Architectural History of Suburbia. The San Francisco Peninsula, including San Mateo County, played a large role in the development of modern suburbia; for example, the ranch house. Mr. Hess documents the emerging suburban metropolises of the West. Free to

Saturday, January 8th at 11 am
Story Time at the History Museum for Children - Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails

Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students with ID.
FREE for children 5 and under; Members are always free.

Come listen to a story about a pioneer family’s journey on a wagon train headed to California. Hear the story Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails and make your own covered wagon to take home. Then, tour the museum’s Journey to Work exhibit to learn about early forms of transportation in San Mateo County.


A Centennial Celebration - 100th Anniversary of the 1910 Courthouse
Visit for more details
San Mateo County History Museum
2200 Broadway

Redwood City, 94063

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Memoriam: Marian Gibbons - Founder of Hollywood Heritage Museum

Marian Dean Newman Gibbons
(1921 - 2010)

Hollywood Heritage Founder, preservationist, actress, singer and author Marian Gibbons passed away December 8, 2010 from lung cancer. Whether you knew her as "Marian," "Mrs. Gibbons," "Mage" or "Majemahanna" (her mother's nickname for her) Marian was and is an unforgettable Hollywood person.

She was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and lived in Wisconsin and Arizona. A brief stay in Hollywood in 1949 convinced her that this was the town she wanted to live in, but her husband Jim's business took them back to the Midwest. Marian vowed if she ever had the chance to come back, she would. That chance came in the late 1970's and Marian came to Los Angeles and worked as a publicist with her daughter, Jane, an anchor for KNBC. The 1970's appearance of the town she had worked so hard to return to inspired her with Christy Johnson McAvoy, Frances Offenhauser McKeal, Mildred Heredeen and Susan Peterson St. Francis to start Hollywood Heritage, Inc. Through the inspiration and hard work of these founders, Hollywood Heritage became the success story it is today.

A memorial is planned and we will post that information as soon as it is available. She will be interred at Hollywood Forever in Hollywood.

Janet L. Hoffmann
Blondie House
WBSF Ranch Operations
411 North Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505
818-977-2750 FAX

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eadweard Muybridge in California

Featured slideshow images are available for viewing in the North Baker Research Library
at the California Historical Society.  For rights and reproduction information please click here.

Born Edward James Muggeridge in Kingston upon Thames in southwest London, Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) immigrated to New York in the early 1850s and worked as a sales agent for the London Printing and Publishing Company. He moved to San Francisco in 1855 to open a branch office, and here his name began evolving, first into Muygridge and finally to Muybridge in 1865. Following a severe head injury from a stage coach crash in northern Texas in 1860 that caused him to see double images, he returned to London for recuperation and it is thought that his experiments with photography began at this time. At the International Exhibition of 1862, in which the Photographic Society of London participated, Muybridge would have seen works by many other photographers and the emerging association between art and science that would later influence his work. Upon returning to San Francisco in 1866 or1867 he immediately began working as a photographer, signing his works as Helios, and established his business as Helios Flying Studio.

Among his subject matter, Muybridge photographed the development of the Central Pacific Railroad, and accepted government commissions for documenting lighthouses on the Pacific coast and various government buildings in San Francisco. His landscape and terrain images include Alaska and Central America, Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and he was in northeastern California documenting Tule Lake for the US Army when the Modoc Wars erupted in 1873. After meeting Governor Stanford in 1877, Muybridge photographed Stanford’s horses while in motion. He would continue to develop his Animal Locomotion series and, in 1887, convinced the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D. C. to purchase a full portfolio of eleven volumes of all the Locomotion images. When Muybridge retired in 1894 to Kingston upon Thames, he continued to promote and publish his motion studies and books with an emphasis on the connection of his work to the birth of the new visual media―cinema—which began to flourish at his death.

In June 2009, CHS was invited by the Corcoran to lend fifteen works by Muybridge plus an additional photo album from its permanent collections for the exhibition, Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change. Organized by the Corcoran’s chief curator, Philip Brookman, this first major retrospective of over 300 items from thirty-six lenders examines Muybridge’s career and extensive pioneering work in areas such as The Geology of Time: Yosemite and the High Sierra; War, Murder, and the Production of Coffee: the Modoc Wars and the Development of Central America; Motion Pictures: the Zoopraxiscope; and Animal Locomotion.

CHS’ stereo card with the classic image of Contemplation Rock, Glacier Point, 1872, was chosen as one of two images selected to illustrate Muybridge’s work in the Washington Post review of the exhibition, on view this last spring and early summer at the Corcoran Gallery. Three small works from CHS’ group were shipped to the exhibition’s second venue at the Tate Gallery in London and are currently on view there to January 16, 2011. The Helios exhibition will travel to its last venue, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and open in late February for fourteen weeks of viewing. We hope you will visit Helios at SFMOMA, and visit CHS where more works by Muybridge from our permanent collection will also be on view during that time. More works by Muybridge are available for viewing in our North Baker Research Library, where we welcome visitors from around the world.

~ Cheryl Maslin, CHS Registrar/Collections Manager
    California Historical Society

Biographical source: Brookman, Philip. Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change.
Corcoran Gallery of Art and Steidl Publishers, 2010.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Historic Mexican era Adobe to be Demolished

The 1844 Peninsula foothills home of Juana Briones, a pioneering rancher, businesswoman and herbalist, may soon be demolished, with the permission of a state appeals court.
Juana Briones c. 1870

Owners of a tract in Palo Alto that includes the vacant, earthquake-damaged adobe residence - one of the oldest homes in California - won an important legal round last week when the Sixth District Court of Appeal denied a rehearing to preservationists who challenged a demolition permit the City Council approved in 2007.

A Santa Clara County judge had ruled in favor of the Friends of the Juana Briones House in 2008, saying the city should have conducted an environmental review that included consideration of alternatives to razing the home.

But the appeals court said a demolition permit, under the Palo Alto ordinance, is an administrative act with clear-cut standards, rather than a subjective decision that requires an environmental study. When a city authorizes demolition based on objective criteria, the court said, state law provides no special protection for historic structures. The court issued the ruling last month and elevated it last week to a precedent for future cases. Unless the state Supreme Court intervenes, the home could be torn down in the spring.

Endangered listing

Among those lamenting the decision was Elaine Stiles, Western program officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit that works with local groups to protect historic sites. This year, the trust listed the Briones home among the nation's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Briones was "a widely known and revered woman in early California history," Stiles said. "There are not a lot of significant features of landscape left from that early settlement period in California."

Juana Briones House, Palo Alto's oldest house.
Photo: Paul Sakuma / AP

Gregory Klingsporn, lawyer for the couple who bought the 1.5-acre tract in 1997, said they initially proposed to restore the Briones house while demolishing the surrounding wings, which date from the early 1900s, and building a modern home elsewhere on the site. The couple, Jaim Nulman and Avelyn Welczer, applied for a demolition permit in 1998 only after the city rejected their first proposal, Klingsporn said.
Palo Alto declared the home a historic landmark in 1987. The state designated the site as a landmark in 1954. Briones' Bay Area roots extend beyond Palo Alto. She and her two sisters came to live at the Presidio in the 1810s, and Briones and her husband were the first recorded residents of the El Polin Spring area of the Spanish military outpost. Briones later lived near what is now Washington Square Park in San Francisco before buying a 4,400-acre rancho on the Peninsula in the 1840s, a land purchase that itself was historic.

Property fight

According to a researcher quoted by the preservationists' lawyers, Briones, after being granted a legal separation from an abusive husband, was allowed by Mexican law to buy property independently of her husband. But after statehood in 1850, Briones - uneducated and illiterate - had to fight for more than 20 years in U.S. tribunals before validating her title to the land. She was famed as a healer and operated a hospital in her Palo Alto home, said Jeanne Farr McDonnell, executive director of the Women's Heritage Museum in San Francisco and author of a 2008 biography of Briones. "People from all over looked for her and sought out her skill," said McDonnell, a member of the group trying to preserve the house. She said Briones, taught by Native Americans and others familiar with local herbs, went to Bolinas to treat victims of a smallpox epidemic and trained her nephew, who practiced medicine there for the next half-century.

Briones died in 1889. Her daughter sold the home in 1900, and succeeding owners made renovations. Despite suffering damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the building remained open for docent-led tours until new owners in 1993 cut off access, McDonnell said. After those owners made further renovations without a permit, the city's building inspector declared the structure dangerous in 1996 and ordered the old adobe section vacated, the appeals court said.

New owners

Nulman and Welczer bought the property a year later and sought permission to restore the old home while tearing down the wings. City officials argued that a contract giving the owners a property tax break, in exchange for maintaining the historic building, required restoration of the entire structure. But the city lost a seven-year court battle in 2006 and approved the demolition permit for the building in 2007.

The preservation group went to court the next day, arguing that the city had sidestepped requirements of its own permit process, including review by a municipal historic resources board. Such subjective policy decisions, the group said, triggered a state law that mandates an environmental study and consideration of alternatives. The appeals court disagreed, saying the rules for razing residential properties in the city are simple: The residence must be vacant, and any tenants must be notified. The historic board had the power to delay demolition but not to prevent it, the court said. Lawyers for the preservationists say the owners allowed removal of artifacts from the home but barred archaeologists who wanted to examine the adobe structure.
Klingsporn, the owners' lawyer, said he doesn't know whether they still plan to build on the land or sell it, but they have waited long enough to exercise their rights under the demolition permit.

"They bought the property to build a family home that their kids could grow up in," he said. Since then, he said, "their kids have grown up."  For more info visit Juana Briones Heritage.