I really can’t claim any rural heritage. It’s been many generations since any of my family was back on the farm. I’ve lived in cities most of my life. Yet, I have always had this fascination with farming. Even as a kid, I always loved those times when we visited farms or went to a rural country fair. Nowadays, I make my annual pilgrimage to Sacramento for the State Fair. I think I am one of only a handful of San Franciscans that go. For most urban and suburban dwellers, there is often a real disconnect with rural life, particular agricultural life. More and more of my neighbors are shopping at farmer’s markets – and yet many of them to have little sense of the world their oranges and lettuce come from. By no means, do I even come close to understanding what it’s like to live on a farm, but at least I have an inkling that they are out there.
The current exhibit at the California Historical Society is titled I See Beauty in this Life. It features about 150 photographs of rural California life. It includes 100 years old images pulled from the archives, photos of California Native Americans reprinted from early 20th Century negatives, snapshots from different eras and contemporary work form photographer/curator Lisa Hamilton. It’s, as it should be, history meets art. The above image from the CHS website just gives you a sneak peak. But take a little trip downtown and go “to the country.” You enter the building on Mission Street and leave a busy neighborhood of office buildings and luxury hotels and enter a world of that “other” California. Reminding us that we live in the biggest agricultural state in the country. The show runs through March 24, 2013.