1000 Oak Street at 10th Street
Oakland, California 94607

Way Beyond the Melting Pot

The Oakland Museum of California’s new TRADING TRADITIONS: CALIFORNIA’S NEW CULTURES exhibition (January 19–April 6, 2008) vividly depicts how immigrants to the Bay Area don’t necessarily want to blend in. Many opt to adapt but to remain distinct within the community at large and among newcomers.

There are cities within cities—Koreatown, Japantown, Chinatown, Fremont’s enclaves of Southeast Asians and Afghans; Russians in San Francisco; and Latinos in the Fruitvale and Mission neighborhoods—that provide continuity and daily interaction with the wider community.

Based on the book Under the Dragon (Heyday Books), the multimedia exhibition explores the daily mix of California's new communities through photographs by Berkeley writer and radio journalist Lonny Shavelson, commentary by Oakland author and editor Fred Setterberg and Shavelson, and sound design by James LeBrecht, head of Berkeley Sound Artists, and Shavelson. They present the Bay Area as a virtual street fair, with food, music, and culture in constant exchange.

Immigration can mean loss, cultural isolation, and change, which Setterberg and Shavelson convey eloquently. It’s possible to maintain tradition within a household, but not on the street, where markets, movie theaters, places of worship, street signs, and conversation offer a cacophony of choices and distractions.

Shavelson has captured many such scenes:
▪ Mien teenagers from an Oakland high school sporting their hair in cornrows
▪ An African American leading the Chinese lion dancers in San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade
▪ Latino converts to Islam sharing a Mexican lunch outside the mosque
▪ An Iranian Jew counseling Cambodian refugees in Fremont via the common language of art
▪ A Chinese man wearing a sombrero to blend in with his Latino neighbors

The photographs and text, mounted on sailcloth and suspended from the ceiling, give the installation movement and life. The soundscape fills the exhibition with street, prayer, and festival sounds—aural snapshots—from scores of local environments.

Trading Traditions also offers an area with mirrors where visitors can try on clothing from Nigeria, Mexico, Japan, East India, China, Guatemala, Russia, and Afghanistan.
To interview curators Shavelson, Setterberg, and LeBrecht, or project director Dr. P. Christiaan Klieger, please call 510/238-4740.

Saturday, January 19 Opening Day (2-5 p.m.)
Lion dance by Kei Lun Martial Arts Performing Team (3 p.m.)
Latin folk music with La Familia Peña-Govea (2-4 p.m.)

Sunday, January 20 (12–5 p.m.) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
“Faith in California” (2 p.m.). African American Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, and Muslims discuss their mix of spiritual practices. South African Freedom songs by Vukani Mawethu.

Thursday, February 14 (1 p.m.). Curators Lonny Shavelson and Fred Setterberg give a free talk about their book and exhibition and sign books.

Sunday, February 17 (2 p.m.). “The Afro-Caribbean and Black Native American Presence in California.” Lonny Shavelson talks with Caribbean historian Val Serrant, Tomi Seon of the Islands of Fire dance company, and Don Little Cloud Davenport from the Black Native American Association about their communities’ contributions to California history. Followed by a celebration of Afro-Caribbean and Black/Native American traditions led by the Sistas-Wit-Style dancers and musicians.

First Fridays After Five, March 7. Performances at 7 and 8:15 p.m., James Moore Theatre
Introduction by curators Fred Setterberg, Lonny Shavelson, Christiaan Klieger
Contemporary Persian ballet Shahrzad Dance Company
Korean fusion jazz band Puriak
Modern dance by Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theater
Persian music by Taghi Amjadi (in gallery)

Sunday, March 16 (12:40–4:30 p.m.) Family Explorations! Celebrate California’s Cultures
Balinese music with Gamelan Sekar Jaya
Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble with Native American vocalist Jane DeCuir
Indian dohl drummer Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti
Tortilla-making activity

Saturday, April 5, 2008 3-4 p.m.
Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra
James Moore Theatre

Smithsonian scholar, composer and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Anthony Brown leads his Grammy-nominated Asian American Orchestra for a matinee concert, suitable for all ages and musical tastes. The internationally acclaimed ensemble will perform reinterpreted jazz classics by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and George Gershwin as a program of the Museum's multimedia exhibition, Trading Traditions: California’s New Culture, based on the recent book, Under the Dragon: California’s New Culture, which features a chapter on the Orchestra's recording of their latest CD, Rhapsodies.

Included with price of admission.

Trading Traditions: California’s New Cultures was funded by the Oakland Museum Women's Board and the Oakland Museum of CA History Guild. The museum’s Art and History Galleries will be closed for renovation Jan 2, 2008 through Oct 2009, but exhibitions, public program, and the store and café will continue as usual.
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The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 to 5; Sunday, noon to 5; first Friday of the month until 9. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 seniors and students with ID, and free for museum members, kids five and under, and Oakland City employees. The museum is at 1000 Oak @ 10th Street, one block from the Lake Merritt BART. For more information, visit www.museumca.org or call 510/238-2200.

Official Website: http://www.museumca.org/exhibit/exhi_trad.html

Added by OaklandMuseumofCalifornia on January 7, 2008