April 1, 2012

The 1968 Exhibit

March 31, 2012 - August 19, 2012

Two for the price of one. That's what I got this weekend when two exhibitions opened at the Oakland Museum of California.

One of the exhibitions is, "The 1968 Exhibit". As described by the Oakland Museum: "Experience one of the most powerful years in recent history in this unforgettable exhibition exploring the social, political, and economic events of 1968. A turning point for a generation coming of age and a nation engaged in war, 1968 saw the peak of the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, riots at the Democratic National Convention, Black Power demonstrations at the Summer Olympics, demonstrations by Feminists at the Miss America pageant, and much more. Throughout it all, the <San Francisco> Bay Area was at the forefront with an emerging California counterculture. Presented as an ongoing collective of historical and personal stories, the exhibition is for those who lived through it, those who’ve heard about it, and those who wonder why it matters."

I lived through it, I remember it and know why it matters.

The Museum description continues, "The social forces that swirled through the turbulent 1960s crested in 1968. It was a turning point for a generation coming of age and a nation at war. Hair opened on Broadway, Laugh-In debuted and became the number-one show on TV, Bonnie and Clyde and "The Graduate" picked up Oscars and Johnny Cash gave his legendary performance at Folsom Prison. President Lyndon Johnson spoke of a country “challenged, at home and abroad” in his State of the Union address; his successor, Richard Nixon, promised in his nomination acceptance speech that “the long, dark night for America is about to end.” In the closing days of the year, we saw Earth in its entirety for the first time from the window of the Apollo 8 space capsule."

When entering the Museum complex you are confronted by a huge mural . . . 

(click on any image for slideshow)
Living Concrete & Chairs of the Board
 photo by Styrous®

"Chairs of the Board", mural, designed by Jensen Architects, featured elements of images & items in, The 1968 Exhibit. The "Living Concrete", mural, by Ras, Terms, Safety First, Resta & Tecka, were the original designers; they, in turn, invited artists: Dan Fontes, GATS, Dead Eyes, Keena & Ash Rose.

The Members Preview featured, what else, a DJ playing a mix of music, which included classics from the late sixties. It was great to hear those old songs again.

 photo by Styrous®

The 1968 exhibit has on view the items we lived with in 1968, that watermark year, furniture, radios, TVs, fashion, the IBM Selectric typewriter, beanbags, jewelry, love beads, the whole damned thing. And Green! There is a green couch that reminded me of that inescapable avocado color that was so distinctive of that period. Aside from that it was good to see all those reminders of an era that changed everything as we knew it.

A rendered view of The 1968 Exhibit by William Maple

On display is a UH-1H Iroquois helicopter (Huey) built in 1966. It was purchased as scrap parts from Northwest Helicopter in 2010. The Huey was used in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970.

photo by Styrous®

photo by Styrous®

There are interactive displays throughout the exhibition but the most riveting is the one in the interior of the helicopter with interviews by men and women who lived (sort of) through the Viet Nam war. The dialogue is heart-rending, heartwarming and horrifying at times but compelling.

 photo by Styrous®

EMU INC. derives its name from the radio call sign of a unique unit in Army aviation history, the 135th Assault Helicopter Company. The 135th was a typical Vietnam era Assault Helicopter Company with the major exception that it was composed of both U.S. Army and Royal Australian Navy personnel. Because of this unique composition, the 135th was considered an Experimental Military Unit, hence its call sign E.M.U. or EMU.

The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City are well represented. There is a good overview of the controversy caused by the Tommie Smith and John Carlos salute. The website, infoplease.com has this to say about it and the political, social and racial backgrounds of which the image is the result.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos (Salute)
photo, wikipedia.com/AP photographer

 There is an awe inspiring, actual-size,
and beautiful model of a 1968 space capsule.
photo by Styrous®

Not one but TWO of those avacado green couches.
photo by Styrous®

And, of course, the bean bags
photo by Styrous®

For more information about the Huey helicopter, visit HueyVets.com.

For more information about "The 1968 Exhibit", visit www.1968exhibit.org.

Screen-printing demonstrations schedule.

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The exhibition accompanying "The 1968 Exhibit" is, "All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area - The evolution of street art with a message", which also runs from March 31, 2012 to August 19, 2012

"All of Us or None", the poster exhibition, will be the focus of the next Viewfinder blog entry which can be seen here.

Styrous® ~ April, 2012