Back to the Land

Would you call modern day California rural? Lisa M. Hamilton does, and she’s spent years visiting “places where the culture and the economy are defined by the direct use of natural resources.” For San Franciscans, the farmers markets, CSAs, and the Artichoke Festival in Castroville are the closest we ever get to farms, but it turns out we’re in the minority. According to a 2010 census, the Golden State is still more than 94 percent rural. Hamilton dug deep in photography archives dating back to the 1880s to curate a new exhibition, “I See Beauty in this Life: A Photographer Looks at 100 Years of Rural California,” which connects present-day stories with 150 photographs from the past. You might imagine she favored pastoral selections, full of windmills or mules, but Hamilton revels in the unexpected, and above all values photographs that are visually arresting: This exhibition depicts the endless struggle and celebration inherent in wresting a livelihood from the unpredictable, unforgiving earth. Visit the exhibition and stay for the discussion of the most successful farm labor union in United States history, led by Matt Garcia, author of the new book, From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement.
Tue., Nov. 13, 6 p.m.; Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Nov. 13. Continues through March 24, 2012

 
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