Cultural Activity Report – Oakland Museum of California Visit


The Oakland Museum of California is one idea and thrill filled space of art, the place is engaging. I attended the Oakland Museum of California (OMC) in March 10th 2016, during this time many people I interacted with were students doing projects and assignments for school. I was wowed at the museums thematically organization, it is divided along three themes: California Creativity, California People and California Land. This made it easy to understand different works by artists like David Ireland, Edward Weston, Albert Bierstadt, Richard Diebenkorn and Dorothea Lange. This being the main highlights of art for me, easy viewing and experiencing the unexpected was expected. Art can be intricate; the museum provided an avenue for people to understand more on certain pieces got different perspectives and explanations to art at the museums lounge where people were asking questions in regards to the collections featured.

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Description of two Pieces at the Museum

Most of the art at the museum features collections on California, conceptual works, craft, photography; sculptures and painting of the region were present. There were collections of landscape paintings of the 1850s-1880s, furniture and decorative arts by the renowned artists Arthur and Lucia Mathews.

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The first piece of art that caught my attention is a piece by Dorothea Lange, an artist with a personal archive of prints, journals, manuscripts and contact sheets dating from 1919-1965.A photograph titled “Migrant Mother,Lipomo,1936” features a woman and three children, the emotion on the woman’s face is that of a distraught, sad and worried woman. The woman was holding a young baby and two others leaning on her shoulder facing behind. You can sense hunger, deprivation and grim conditions from this picture which demonstrates the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World war 2.The major issues of that period were emotional and I felt the intimacy of the photograph which was under a theme “Politics of seeing”. Art of this kind definitely helped advocacy and mind swaying for change in the nation’s history.

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The second piece of art that intrigued me was a photograph by Andrew J. Russel called “Salt Lake from Trestle Work”. It is a side view of the railway works back in 1830-1902.This landscape photography is a part of many, works that help document the Union of Pacific Railroad and construction of a transcontinental railroad. The landscape photographs by this artist told everything from the impacts of the railroad to the Native Americans. Through this photograph Andrew J.Russel captures the big scale of the western land, the growth of small towns and how much was incorporated in the railroad building enterprise. The photograph and many others on the railroad building influenced western mythology and history; the pictures were engraved in newspapers and used for advertisements.

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The nimble way provided by the museum to view art, allowed me to pull a chair examine a painting, touch materials, draw portraits and write in a journal. California ceramics, Gold Rush Era Works and jewelry by Margaret De Patta from the 1930, were pieces of art that added to my knowledge while visiting the museum. The legacy of the California people continues to be told through ethnographic materials, natural specimens and historical artifacts at the Oakland Museum of California. I loved the way history was told through art of the land and the people, it was so easy understanding certain aspects through a simple description and just looking at a picture.

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