Riverside: More Dreamers of the Golden Dream

Posted By Staff

More Dreamers of the Golden Dream
Riverside Art Museum Exhibit Focuses on Riverside’s Eastside

More Dreamers of the Golden Dream
April 26 – July 23, 2013
Opening Reception on Friday, April 26th, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
For more information, visit www.riversideartmuseum.org

Riverside CA – The Riverside Art Museum presents More Dreamers of the Golden Dream, an exhibition by Riverside-based writer and UC Riverside Professor Susan Straight and photographer Douglas McCulloh. The exhibition runs from April 26 – July 23, 2013, with a free opening reception on Friday, April 26th, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

The essays of Joan Didion and James Baldwin were early inspirations to renowned writer Susan Straight who has collaborated with eminent photographer Douglas McCulloh for More Dreamers of the Golden Dream. “Didion wrote about California as no one else had, but though I learned so much from her elegant and incisive sentences, I felt as if she didn’t know my people – here in inland Southern California – and I determined to write about them. The history of Riverside’s Eastside, in particular, is part of my family,” says Straight. Straight and McCulloh present several stories for More Dreamers; some feature older residents and high school athletes, and some about the actual physical place, including The Place – a landmark club now gone – and Daisy Carter’s house, which burned down in 2012, but remains a legacy of the Eastside. Each story featured in the exhibition will consist of a narrative recording by Straight, which will be accessible through a “guide by cellphone” dialing system, paired with both McCulloh’s documentary-style large-scale photographs and historic photographs of the people and places of the Eastside.

“A Victorian house burned down on Riverside’ Eastside neighborhood more than a year ago,” begins Straight. “It was the home where Daisy Carter had lived for many years, raising four beautiful girls, marrying and having a son. One of those girls was my mother-in-law, Alberta Sims, and when I realized that a part of this close-knit neighborhood was gone forever, and that some of the places which have been mainstays of this community might be unknown or forgotten by the larger world, I began to write stories based on the past and the present. I asked Doug McCulloh, with whom I’d been working with for KCET and for magazines, to take photos of that burned house, and later, of my family members walking across the vacant lot after the remains were bulldozed. Doug became fascinated with the Eastside stories I told him, and we worked together for a year and a half on this project. The great places like Irving School and Lincoln Boxing Club, Zacatecas Café, The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. James Tabernacle led us into past and present-day.

“People might forget,” continues Straight,” that African-Americans and Mexican-Americans made the Eastside community a tightly-knit place of friendship, work, and love. We hope these stories remind everyone about how a pace like this works, every day, with stories of the people who first came, and the people who are here now.”

Unique to Southern California, the inland area saw an epic migration of former military men from a wide range of places; Straight’s father-in-law and many of his neighbors were black men from Oklahoma, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and elsewhere who chose Riverside after being stationed at March Air Force Base. Their stories of life in Southern California always fascinated Straight, and her generation heard amazing stories of the Old South and the New California. The community has remained close and strong, but the older people are disappearing now and the Eastside is becoming fragmented due to fire, loss, and development.

Dr. Anthea Hartig, Executive Director of the California Historical Society, is one of many exhibition sponsors. “As a third-generation Inland Empire native, UCR graduate, and now having the honor of leading the Golden State’s historical society, it is a true honor to support and share in this important project created by two remarkable, soulful artists about a place as meaningful as the Eastside,” Hartig says.

The photographs taken of Eudora Welty, Mary Ellen Mark, Don Bartletti, and others were also inspirations for Straight’s novels and short stories. Straight and McCulloh have been working together on KCET’s SoCal Focus blog, as well as on assignments for BOOM and The Huntington Library. “To see the landscape through photography and pair that with the stories people are willing to tell me is a wonderful confluence and a great chance to help others see my particular world,” says Straight.

“We are deeply grateful to Susan and Doug for this opportunity to share their excellent new work that celebrates the many untold stories of our community,” says Riverside Art Museum Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge. “And as with everything they do, they have brought their energy, brilliance, and heart to this project. In particular, I can’t wait to try out the audio component of the exhibition to hear Susan read the stories that accompany Doug’s photographs. This exhibition moves us all forward in so many ways.”

Douglas McCulloh is an artist, writer, and curator. He is an honors graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and holds an M.F.A. in photography from Claremont Graduate University. He is a three-time recipient of project support from the California Council for the Humanities and has curated 14 exhibitions, including three for the California Museum of Photography. McCulloh is one of six artists who transformed an abandoned Southern California F-18 jet hanger into the world’s largest camera to take the world’s largest photograph. He views this photograph as a marker of the border crossing between 170 years of film-based photography and the era of digital dominance.

McCulloh exhibits widely in the U.S., Europe, China, and Mexico and has shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Musée de l’Elysee, Lausanne; Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône; Institute de Cultura de Barcelona, Barcelona; Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles; Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida; Asian Cultural Center, New York City; and UCR/California Museum of Photography, Riverside.

McCulloh’s most recent curatorial project focuses on international blind photographers. Since 2010, Sight Unseen has traveled to ten institutions, including Kennedy Center for the Arts, Washington D.C.; Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City; Manuel Alvarez Bravo Center for Photography, Oaxaca; Center for Visual Art, Denver; Flacon Art Center, Moscow; and Sejong Center, Seoul.

Susan Straight has published eight novels: Aquaboogie; I Been In Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All The Pots; Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights; The Gettin Place; Highwire Moon; A Million Nightingales; Take One Candle Light a Room; and Between Heaven and Here. Her first middle grade reader, The Friskative Dog, was published by Knopf in March 2007. Her picture book, Bear E. Bear, was published in 1995 by Hyperion Books.

In 2011, Straight received the Gina Berriault Award for Fiction from San Francisco State University. In November 2007, Straight received The Lannan Award for Fiction for her body of work. In 1998, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction.

She has published essays and articles in numerous magazines and journals, including The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Harpers, The Believer, The Nation, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple, Family Circle, Salon, Oxford American, and Ms.

She has also been a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

Born in Riverside, California, in 1960, Straight still lives here with her three daughters. She is a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, where she has taught since 1988. She received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008. Currently, she is the Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program and serves on the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the university.


RAM relies on the generosity of members and donors to support its exhibitions, education programs, and special events. A 50-plus-year-old, private, non-profit cultural arts institution housed in a National Historic 1929 building designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, the museum welcomes over 50,000 visitors a year. The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 12:00 noon – 4:00 p.m. For information on exhibits, events, classes, memberships, or sponsorship opportunities, visit www.RiversideArtMuseum.org. Find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/riversideartmuseum) and Twitter (RAMRiverside).

This exhibit is sponsored by:

•       California Historical Society and Anthea Hartig and John Swiecki
•       UC Riverside Office of the Chancellor
•       John Gabbert and Katie Smith
•       The Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties
•       The African-American Historical Society
•       CHASS F1RST: First Year Experience in UC Riverside’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science and UC Riverside’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science’s Annual Theme – Happiness
•       Eastside Heal Zone
•       KCET-TV
•       KUCR 88.3 FM
•       PIP Printing of Riverside/Corona-printmystuff.com
•       UCR African Student Programs
•       Riverside Latino Network
•       Inlandia Institute
•       City of Riverside Councilman Andy Melendrez
•       Frances J. Vasquez
•       City of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey
•       Simple Simon’s Bakery & Bistro
•       Zacatecas Café