The Museum of Art and History has proven that personal collections represent more than just a fun hobby – they are tangible impressions of identity, experience, and creativity. On view in the MAH’s 2nd floor Solari Gallery, the exhibition Santa Cruz Collects presents fascinating collections belonging to 22 local people and institutions. Visitors can learn things they might not otherwise know about the community, as well as how to look at the items that make them tick in a new way.
Santa Cruz Collects is one of the MAH’s reoccurring shows exploring the curious process and purpose of collecting through gathered objects and personal stories from Santa Cruz County residents. Through the different collections, the exhibition sheds light on human nature, celebrates individuality, and provides insight into how objects memorialize and make people who they are.
The objects are as wonderfully diverse as the people who collected them – visitors can marvel at cat whiskers, corks, and crosses; planes, paper, and pins; ties, trolls, and ticket stubs. Each display is accompanied by the collector’s profile and words sharing their connection to the items. There are collections that represent identities and document lives, as well as items that have been creatively recycled to express relationships, consumerism, and how things change over time.
Four of the featured profiles are local artists who have used their collected items to create assemblage sculptures. Nate Goodman collects metal pieces and smashes them into new and recycled sculptures. Beverly Rayner collects materials from giveaway piles and transforms them into sculpture. Jack Howe uses found objects to create mixed media sculptures. Gensen DeLeon turns corks into characters, and creates settings and social circles for them.
Some of the collections nostalgically reflect the memories of what it means to be a part of this unique area and community. Bob Pearson’s surfboards represent his legendary presence in surf culture. In 35 years as a signmaker, Steve Hosmer has gathered signs, neons, and postcards that include iconic local images. Santa Cruz and Monterey County’s music radio station KUSP shares 45 years of broadcasting through a collection of posters. Nane Alejandrez collects items related to the art, profession and history of Santa Cruz tattooing. Noel Patterson’s decades of local real estate and land assessment are immortalized in his numerous ties that now belong to the MAH Collection.
The exhibition also gives visitors an opportunity to ponder their own connection to objects. As with all their exhibitions, the MAH offers interactive activities that encourage visitors to further engage with the theme of the show. Santa Cruz Collects includes a project area with materials for guests of all ages to consider the things they identify with and be inspired to start their own collections.
Santa Cruz Collects: October 7, 2016 – February 19, 2017
Find out more about the exhibition and upcoming events by visiting the Museum of Art and History.