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Posts Tagged ‘Oakland Museum of California’

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RUN-DMC signed a million dollar contract with Adidas in 1985.

Who knew sneakers were such a rich topic? The casual shoe once only worn for sports has, since the 1980s, grown into a cultural phenomenon and become a highly collectable item for mostly men but women, too. (They don’t come in women’s sizes.) It’s big business with certain styles selling on the secondary market for triple the original retail price. Collectors often don’t wear the shoes, but instead house them in specially designed closets or custom built display cases.  Hmm … intriguing.

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Early Sneaker from the 19th Century

I recently attended the Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibit Out of the Box: The Rise of the Sneaker on now through April 2, 2017. This traveling exhibit from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto explores the sneaker, tracing its history from the first 19th century athletic versions to the current craze among collectors for the next It Shoe.

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These Pumas were designed by Hussein Chalayan in 2011. My favorite of the show. Love the simplicity with all the interest unexpectedly at the heel.

Over 140 pairs of shoes are on display including styles from Adidas, Nike, Puma and Reebok. There are vintage styles, hand-painted, limited editions, and designer sneakers from the likes of Christian Louboutin (complete with red sole).

The exhibit is arranged in six sections, helpfully outlining the development of the sneaker. Remember Converse? Basketball player Chuck Taylor endorsed the Converse making them the must-have shoe for every teenage boy across America.

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Customized/hand-painted sneakers by artist Mache. Joker from The Dark Night.

 

The sneaker as status symbol really kicked in during the 1970s as Americans embraced fitness and brands like Puma and Adidas. Later in the 1980s, Hip-Hop and Rap artists took to  the casual shoe style as part of their overall look catapulting sneakers into a celebrity stardom of their own.

An entire section is devoted to Air Jordans, the signature sneaker styles of basketball player Michael Jordon by Nike.

Evelyn Orantes, OMCA Curator of Public Practice says: Sneakers are more than just a shoe – they are an expression of personal identity and a reflection of pop culture, whether it’s the latest sports fashion or technology-driven creations.

What a fascinating exhibit! I recommend this to anyone interested in fashion history, pop culture, pop music and of course all those sneaker collectors out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I love museums and always have. I believe there is inspiration to be found in museums – inspiration for fashion, stories, thinking, life.

One of my favorite museum haunts is the Oakland Museum of California. I remember going as a school kid and what intrigued me most were the history exhibits of recreated rooms; I can still see the lovely lady donning a tall hat standing at the door of her Victorian home and the American Indians dressed in their beaded leather and feathered finery. Talk about leaving an impression!

Mandala by Nancy Hom.

Mandala by Nancy Hom.

Another impressive exhibit at the OMCA is their annual Day of the Dead. For 21 years, the museum has invited six or so local artists to create altars honoring the November 1st celebration, All Souls Day. (Note: After this year, the museum will go on a biennial schedule for this exhibit.) It’s really an all season celebration including Halloween and a time when we all are thinking of lost loved-ones. This year’s exhibit theme is Rituals & Remembrance and it runs now through January 3rd, 2016. Touring the gallery, it had me thinking about family traditions both old and new of honoring the dead – from visiting a gravesite to a birthday mention on Facebook.

Close up.

Close up.

Mandala by Nancy Hom caught my eye at a distance for size and color and then drew me in forcing a closer look at all the photos. Each one is colored and has an added skeleton figure, setting a scene and telling a story.

Although small, there is much to see and ponder at Rituals & Remembrance and don’t forget the Community Celebration coming up October 25th. Click here for more information.

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OMCADayofDead_10It’s that spooky time of year and once again the Oakland Museum of California is celebrating Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead) with a special exhibition running now through December 8, 2013. Days of the Dead is a Mesoamerican annual tradition of honoring the dead between October 31st and November 2nd with alters and various festivities.

To mark their 19th year celebrating Days of the Dead and the opening of the Gallery of California Natural Sciences, this year’s exhibition title is The Tree of Life and Death. Nine local artists have created altars and installations focussed on the combined themes of remembrance and the interactions between humans and nature. Artist and Guest Curator Eduardo Pineda says: This exhibition uses the powerful symbol of the Tree of Life and Death to represent the indivisibility of life and death. Drawn from the sacred Mesoamerican metaphor of a life-giving tree that unites earth, the heavens, and the underworld of death, the tree also represents the connection with ancestors and humanity.

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Talk Story Time by Nancy Hom.

Housed in the new California Natural Sciences Gallery, the nine pieces explore personal loss, community loss of environment and resources, and the cycle of life. One of my favorites is by artist and poet Nancy Hom. Titled Talk Story Time, her piece is a round table set for a meal with four chairs dressed in clothing including shoes placed underneath the table. The four chairs represent friends and fellow poets whom Ms. Hom had known for years. The table is meticulously set with notebooks and writings by the four authors, and photos of them as well. A tree is painted on the wall in the background and hovering above the table are origami birds which have the poets’ works written on them. It’s a compelling piece – I was drawn in at first by the dressed chairs but the more I looked the more I saw and got to know these unique individuals.

There’s always something to learn, something to be inspired by, something to gain at Dias de los Muertos at the Oakland Museum of California.

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Lorna Doone's patched jeans are part of the 1968 Exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California.

 1968 was a memorable year:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy are assassinated.
  • The Vietnam war rages on as more and more youth protest against it.
  • Feminists demonstrate at the Miss America Beauty Pageant.
  • Confrontations and riots close down the National Democratic Convention in Chicago.
  • African-American athletes give the Black Power arm symbol at the Summer Olympics in Mexico.

All of these events and more are explored in the current exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California. Using multimedia and artifacts from the period the exhibit dives into the social, political, and economic events of a pivotal year in American history.

Included in the exhibit is an array of clothing and accessories popular in the day. What people chose to wear plays an important role in the 1968 story. Baby Boomers are coming of age and rebelling against everything reeking of mainstream authority. Clothing quickly becomes a powerful and visible way for youth not just to rebel but to identify themselves. Hippies deck themselves out in long hair, patched jeans, and fringed vests. Liberated women go braless and sport miniskirts. Black Panthers show their determination in black leather jackets and black berets.

Back in 1968 teenager Lorna Doone sported a favorite pair of jeans (pictured above). Every time the jeans ripped or got a hole she’d add a patch until eventually the jeans were nothing but patches. In the exhibit she is quoted: Back in those days you could be considered weird and hippie if you wore, like moccasins, or if you wore a jean jacket. You didn’t have to look that much different to shock people.

McCarthy for President dress in the 1968 Exhibit.

Fashion even merges with politics in 1968. Eugene McCarthy challenges incumbent Lyndon Johnson for the democratic presidential nominee. As an anti-Vietnam War candidate he’s favored among college students. To show their support, young coeds attend campaign rallies donning McCarthy dresses, miniskirts, scarves and hats. Men “Get Clean for Gene” and shave off their beards.

In 1968 badges replace expensive jewelry as the latest must-have accessory. Rather than show off wealth, young people want to send a message: Ban the Bra, Get Out of Vietnam, Ringo for President, High as a Kite.

Among the fashions in the exhibit are costumes from the television show Laugh In, pieces worn by Janis Joplin and everyday clothing from hippies to college students to housewives.  

The 1968 Exhibit offers a great slice of fashion history and much more as it unfolds for us the events of 1968 month by month with audio interviews of Vietnam Vets, excerpts of popular television shows of the day, and select video of important speeches and news broadcasts. There’s also a related exhibit of posters – All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The 1968 Exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California now through August 19, 2012.

Be there or be square!

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