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To celebrate its 85th anniversary, Menlo College in Atherton, California
is showcasing 85 Years 85 Artists, an exhibit opening on March 26, 2014. Artists from around the world responded to the call for entries and were randomly assigned a year to illustrate. Participants from 21 states, the Netherlands, England, and Italy submitted works representing cultural, historical, or personal interpretations of their year’s global, regional, or local events.

The exhibit will be on display in the Administration Building at the College from March 26 through July 11, 2014.

85 Years 85 Artists Catalog (pdf)

To purchase a print-on-demand catalog go to Amazon.com

85 Years 85 Artists in the Media

The San Francisco Chronicle 
Menlo College Marks Birthday with ‘85 Years/85 Artists’ Show
by Kenneth Baker

The Almanac
Exhibit Opens Doorway to Decades Past
by Renee Batti

InMenlo
A Treat For The Eyes: 85 Artists Illustrate 85 Years at Menlo College

Send inquiries to artcommittee@menlo.edu

1920s Anna Kuchel Rabinowitz - New York, New York

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Nothing Gold Can Stay (oil paint)

The 1920s were an exhilarating and polarized decade coming out of the ravages of World War I and ending in the despair of the Depression. I choose to title Nothing Gold Can Stay after a poem by Robert Frost in 1927, which captures, for me, the essence of the decade. I used it to establish the gold and green color tones of the painting. When contemplating the 1920s, one immediately thinks of opulence, flappers, jazz, prohibition and speakeasies. This was made possible by the industrial advances that allowed for more leisure time; cars and roads that made travel quicker; and radios that united citizens culturally coast to coast. Also, African Americans migrated north, cities grew taller and women earned the right to vote. The glitz associated with the era overshadows the rise of the conservatives who were threatened by change as evidenced by the stunning growth of the Ku Klux Klan, the Scopes Monkey Trial, the prevalence of credit, and brutality of bootlegging gangsters. The imagery refers to some of these events and the disparity between the positive and negative aspects of the decade. All that was gold faded into darkness, and yet the 1920s continues to influence society to this day.

1927 Stefanie Sylvester - San Jose, California

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Wait a Minute (mixed media on acetate)

My subject matter is a pivotal scene in the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, which was the first feature-length “talkie.” I depict lead actor Al Jolson as he makes his, now famous, proclamation to a spellbound audience: “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”

Wait a Minute is fashioned out of a number of drawings on layers of acetate. In a sense, it is a marriage of subject and medium: the layers of acetate evoke a layering of celluloid film stills. I shuffled these layers as I worked, re-contextualizing lines and form. I prefer to work in black and white, using different mediums to explore a range of tones, finishes, and textures.

This is a new process for me, one that blends two of the styles I have worked in previously: perceptual drawing and abstract collage. It evolves out of my fascination with early cinematography, the photographic studies of Eadweard Muybridge and the cubist explorations of Picasso and Braque. I share with them an interest in exploring how movement can be represented in flat format.

1928 Michael Pauker - Menlo Park, California

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Josephine Baker, 1928 (charcoal on paper)

1928, now 86 years gone, that glittering moment when modernity was at a most particular apex, poised before the immense international financial crisis that would inevitably cascade into global war, replete with mass genocide and a nuclear finish. Not so naïvely optimistic as the pre-World War I Edwardian Age, yet still fueled by a gravity-defying economy. A desperately giddy and giddily desperate time. 

I was thinking about Berlin. Culturally speaking, 1928 Berlin was in the grips of the last highs of the Weimar Republic. The musical Cabaret cleans the place up a bit. The premiere portraitist of the Twenties in Germany was inarguably Otto Dix. Well, you can argue with me, it’s my opinion. He savaged his sitters on canvas with a gripping amorality that seems a perfect expression of time and place. I don’t know as I should have liked to pose for him, and it is hard to imagine why people would throw money at Dix for their own flattering portrait, assuming that they had any familiarity with his oeuvre. But thank goodness that they did sit for him, for in his work Dix fused a classically Teutonic training (think: Dürer) with a soul mangled by years of trench warfare in The Great War of 1914-18, creating psychological portraits that leave an indelible mark in their viewers’ memory. 

My drawing documents an imagined encounter between Otto Dix and Josephine Baker, the American dancer. Dix portrayed all manner of artists, including painters, poets, and performers, and he might plausibly have drawn or painted the expatriate Josephine Baker, though I’m not aware of any such actual works or of their meeting. My apologies to the divine Ms. Baker for coarsening her features and losing a likeness, but I can plead that these are deliberate distortions intending to convey with yet more vivid directness the spirit of the times. The photograph that I loosely based my drawing on was taken in 1928 (in Paris, not Berlin. Oh well.) And I must apologize as well to Mr. Dix, for presuming to execute a drawing which alleges to ape his style. 

1929 Stephanie Bedwell - La Mesa, California

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A Lifetime of Guidance (fiber: wool, wood, paper)

1929 was the year my mother was born. This small sculptural vessel is a representation of her ability to lean into the pain and loss inherent to the human condition. While a permeable, handwoven boat won’t float, it still offers sanctuary. The small ladder that descends from the boat represents the intellectual and spiritual connections that sustained her. It is difficult to express my gratitude for a lifetime of her guidance; no matter how I stretch my arms I cannot encircle her gifts to feel fingers touch. She wrote this poem about vulnerability before dementia claimed her brilliant mind.

Many a man, afraid of the breeze,
Has slung his hammock under the trees,
To accustom himself to the soughing,
In the night.

Many another, no more afraid,
Has hidden himself in the cave he made,
And cuddled and curled in his narrow cell,
Refused to see whether all is well,
In the light.

Come the earthquake, comes the wind,
The man in the cave is stifled, pinned,
By the rocks and his own blind,
Trembling fright.

But nothing troubles the man outside,
Who, rocked by the earthquake, soothed by the tide,
Awakens to see the morning sunshine,
Clear and bright.

1930s Dianne Murphy Eagle - Canandaigua, New York

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Sewing With the WPA in the 1930s (linoleum and collage)

The Works Progress Administration 1935-1943

WPA, The Works Progress Administration, was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 6, 1935 to offer government employment to the jobless. The unemployment rate at that time was 20%. WPA was most known for its construction within the nation’s infrastructure involving projects such as building roads, bridges, airports, dams, water mains, sewers, sidewalks and schools.

In addition to these most well known WPA projects, people were hired for theater, writing, music, sewing, food distribution, archaeological digs, environmental preservation and disaster relief. The WPA helped workers obtain high school diplomas through correspondence schools and on-site training. The National Youth Administration was part of the WPA.

During the Great Depression, unemployed women heads-of-households (and men) across the United States were offered employment in WPA sewing rooms. Workers created over 500 million products including diapers and clothing for low income families, plus supplies for the military (military blankets, hospital gowns, canteen covers).

Skills learned in the sewing rooms equipped workers for work in the private sector. These skills included operating power machines, patternmaking and designing, fabric cutting, alterations, hand finishing and more.

WPA Today

1930 Priscilla Otani - San Francisco, California

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Mood Indigo (mixed media painting - acrylic paint and snake sheddings on canvas)

This piece was inspired by the jazz tune, Mood Indigo, composed in 1930. Buried beneath the writhing snake sheddings is the word “mood,” a sublimated word that shifts from light to dark. The shimmering tones reference the flappers, speakeasies, and the golden age of Jazz that would soon be eclipsed by the Great Depression. The sheddings are the ghosts of one’s past, trace memories of good times and bad.

1931 Darcy Blake - Redwood City, California

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I Dreamed About You (scans of vintage photographs using Photoshop)

In 1927, my Grandma Daisy, a publisher’s daughter, married Winston Bramwell, a farmer in Buffalo, Missouri after a courtship of correspondence. He was a handsome soldier in the Army Air Corps with a romantic joie de vivre. Daisy, captivated by Winston’s charming love letters married him when he was free of duty.

They had three babies from 1928 to 1930. After the stock market crash of 1929, Winston left his young family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and traveled to work on the Hoover Dam in California. Although his correspondence was from 1925 to 1932, no letters were saved from 1931.

I imagine the nightmare of Grandma’s life in 1931, as she had no money, no word from her husband, no food for her 3 babies, and no family in a town she did not know. After a few letters in 1932, she never heard from him again. Records show he worked at the Hoover Dam for only a week in 1932.

The sentence pictured in this photo of poverty and loss is from one of his last letters. The calling card on the left was from a preacher’s son whose affection Daisy had kindly rejected, to save her heart for Winston. 

1932 Dotti Cichon - Mountain View, California

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Sonia Henie’s Ice Skates (digitally altered photography)

Sonja Henie is greatly responsible for the popularity of women’s figure skating around the world today. She was Norwegian, but there were no geographical bounds to her universal appeal.

She won the Olympic Gold Medal for women’s figure skating on American ice at Lake Placid, New York in 1932. She also won Olympic Gold Medals in 1928 at St. Moritz, Switzerland and in 1936 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. I was an ice skater myself not far from Lake Placid, and Sonja Henie winning Olympic Gold in the United States in 1932 made it an event special to me and why I chose Sonja Henie’s ice skates to be my subject for the year 1932. 

Although I don’t skate anymore, I am still an avid figure skating fan traveling to see competitions all over the world. I think back to Sonja Henie’s contributions to the sport every time I watch. She introduced white leather ice skates to the world of women’s figure skating, was the first to combine choreography with figure skating, and the first to wear an embellished costume with a short skirt, all making women’s figure skating what it is today. Her traveling ice show and movies spread the popularity of figure skating to a wide audience.

When I was growing up as an aspiring figure skater, she was one of my first heroines. She elevated the sport to an art and I tried to emulate her enthusiasm for all aspects of it. She inspired young skaters all over the world and still ranks as one of the greats of women’s figure skating and will forever.   

Her autographed skates are in the Smithsonian’s collection and the inspiration for this work.   

The pixilated mosaic of her autographed ice skates is comprised of 85 different images of Sonja Henie on and off the ice. 

1933 Flannon Jackson - Brooklyn, New York

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1933 (automated collage, archival ink jet print)

1933 is an automated collage constructed from approximately 1000 images returned by Google™ image search when queried with the search term “1933.” 

Aligned using facial recognition software, the color values from all the images in the set were then averaged to produce a single image.

1933 can be thought as a kind of history painting in the age of big data that says as much about the representation of history as predefined by the Google™ search algorithm, as it does about the events that define 1933.  With King Kong and the World’s Fair positioned between cheering throngs celebrating Hitler’s rise to power and the outbreak of fighting in Iraq, while the British tried to manage the transition to post-colonial control of the Arab region, 1933 plays out as an allegory of how the past gets constructed in the eyes of the present. But a note of caution should be observed because 1933 doesn’t present a picture of the world as it was, so much as it presents how 1933 is imagined by political and economic forces in the present.

1934 Jamila Rufaro - Palo Alto, California

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1934 (mixed media collage)

In 1934:

Postage for a first class letter cost 3¢.

Buffalo or Indian head nickel, Mercury dime and wheat cents.

It Happened One Night was the first film to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay).

Following the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, on August 2, 1934, Chancellor Adolf Hitler united the chancellorship and presidency under the new title of Führer.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt the 32nd President of the United States served from 1933 until his death in 1945.

Yankees slugger Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run on July 13, 1934.

Shirley Temple starred in her first major motion picture Bright Eyes, at the age of five. 

John Dillinger, whose gang robbed two dozen banks and four police stations, was shot and killed outside a Chicago theater on July 22, 1934.

The Dionne Quintuplets, born May 28, 1934, are the first quintuplets known to survive their infancy.

Pince-nez, a style of spectacles that are supported without earpieces, were popular in 1934.

1934 Ford 3-window Coupe was advertised as an economy car. 

Wrist-watches were almost exclusively worn by women, while men used pocket-watches.

1935 Erik Bakke - Mountain View, California

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1935 (oil paint, acrylic paint, pencil, U.S. postage stamp (front and back), and male sweat on wood panel)

In 1935 testosterone is synthesized, Josephine Baker stars in “Prinsesse Tam-Tam,” and Robert Goddard continues to test his rockets. According to nobelprize.org, “The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1939 was divided equally between Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt ‘for his work on sex hormones’ and Leopold Ruzicka ‘for his work on polymethylenes and higher terpenes’” (work also related to the synthesis of testosterone). The Nazi government required Butenandt to decline his share of the award.Today, recent studies have put into further question the safety of testosterone therapy while 5.3 million prescriptions are written for testosterone each year. Josephine Baker was an international star known for her dancing, singing and acting. She was a WWII hero, working as a spy for the French Resistance, and active in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement; she was the sole female speaker at the March on Washington in 1963—on that day she spoke of the difficulties growing up African American in the United States and of her experiences that led her to France. Robert Goddard’s achievements in rocket development were borrowed by the Nazis, in the creation of their V-1 and V-2 weapons, but were not fully recognized in the United States until the dawn of the Space Age to which he so greatly contributed. 

Erik Bakke lives in California.

1936 Alisan Andrews - Redwood City, California

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1936 - Mah Jongg Relief (watercolor)

The year was 1936, dominating the news was the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, mass unemployment; over 350,000 people migrated to California that year. “Hoovervilles” sprung up across the country, and bums were riding the rails. Around the world: Hitler was secretly raising his army while polishing Germany for the Summer Olympics! The Spanish Civil War started midyear, Mussolini and Hitler signed the Axis Pact between Italy and Germany, President Roosevelt was digging deep to fund the WPA, and millions were out of work. 

Meanwhile, the clack-clack-clack of Mah Jongg tiles could be heard as rich and poor obsessively played the game. Garden parties, floating games in swimming pools, on beaches, and hovels of cardboard and tin were common ground for games. Ladies in the Jewish communities, particularly in New York, would hold huge fund-raising marathons in famous hotels. The funds raised by these marathons went to help the destitute multitudes and was funneled into the underground to bring Jewish refugees out of Europe.

The National Mah Jongg League was established in 1937 and supports many charities to this day. A resurgence of the game is being seen in recent years.

1937 Nanette Wylde - Redwood City, California

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1937 (pigment print)

The 1937 image incorporates aspects of select historical events which took place during the year 1937. Prominent is the notation of the extinction of the Bali tiger, the first of the seven tiger species to disappear due to sport hunting.

Look magazine was first published in 1937. This publication signifies the rise of public fascination with celebrity gossip and culture.

1937 was a big year for air travel. Howard Hughes flew from Los Angeles to New York in record time. Amelia Earhart and flying partner Fred Noonan disappeared during Earhart’s attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world. The Nazi airship, Hindenberg, crashed, killing 36 people and ending the brief era of passenger airships. Pan Am also completed the first commercial flight across the Pacific. The Kamikaze became the first Japanese built airplane to fly to Europe. There was also a successful flying car in 1937, but that success did not apparently capture the public imagination. And the first airmail letter to circle the globe returned to New York in 1937.

The Spanish Civil War was in full bloom with the destruction of Guernica, after which Picasso completed his famous painting of the same name. This painting came to represent not only the specifics of the Spanish Civil war, but war in general, much of which was brewing with the Japanese making gains in China, the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime in Europe, and actions which lead to the development of WWII.

On the local level, 1937 was the year of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I have chosen a mandala format to allude to the beginnings of global interactions and awareness on a public level.

1938 Mara Zoltners - Utica, New York

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View From Morning Train (thermal print on aluminum)

1938 was a year of great change in the world. It was the year that Hitler seized control of the German army; he later invaded Austria and Czechoslovakia. April brought anti-Jewish riots in Dabrowa, Poland and General Francisco Franco declared victory in the Spanish Civil War. In May, the concentration camp at Flossenburg opened in the region of Bavaria, Germany near the border with Czechoslovakia. 1938 was the year that the German Reich voted to confiscate so-called “degenerate art,” and it was the year that Orson Welles touched off mass panic with his dramatic radio adaption of the 1898 novel The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. 1938 was the year of Kristellnacht, the Nazi state sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots against the Jewish communities of Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. It was also the year that Jewish passports were stamped with a red letter J and the year Jews were forced to wear the Star of David.

My work titled View from Morning Train attempts to capture this atmosphere of change by presenting an image that might be seen as both strangely familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It is an image where movement within stillness attempts to speak about uncertainty of the changes yet to come.