The Industrial Revolution brought many innovations to Western civilization, not the least of which was how to market a more luxurious way of life. Through "Historic Posters from the Collection of Citizens Business Bank 1875 to 1950," guests of the Bakersfield Museum of Art will be able to see how a higher standard of living fueled a consumer culture depicted in vibrant imagery. The collection from the local bank is one of three new exhibits opening Thursday.
While many financial institutions only put up posters of the latest savings account or home loan promotion, Citizens has a deeper artistic aesthetic.
From the press material, the collection, depicting such points as California and New York and beyond to the European metropolises of Paris and Milan, is described as such: "These posters fused art with persuasion, offering the bank’s customers a glimpse into a history of consumer society. The scenic countryside, stylish personas in entertainment, and innovative technologies in transportation became indulgent distractions for societies living through two world wars."
One work, "California State Fair, USA, ca. 1904," a lithograph promoting the California State Fair, offers an artistic history lesson. At the turn of the 20th century, poster art was dominate in Europe but less so in America — with the exception of California. The stock poster, measuring nearly 7 feet tall, required two printings to complete: one for the illustration, the other for the blue typeface with details of the attractions.
The exhibit opens Thursday night and runs through Feb. 24.
Also opening Thursday night is "Mark Adams: Works on Paper," a collection of 36 etchings, aquatints and lithographs ranging in date from 1962 to 1996. The San Francisco artist, who passed away in 2006, was best known for his watercolors but this show examines an earlier period of his work. Starting his career working in larger scale, designing tapestries and stained-glass pieces for liturgical buildings, he sought to better control the creative process. As a result, he dedicated himself to painting in the hopes of creating intimate works over which he had complete domain.
Whether depicting a poppy or cigar box, Adams brings life to the simple objects in a luminous style.
From one man's vision, to a multitude of California artists interpreting one concept, such is the range of the winter collection. In "LINE: Selections from the BMoA Permanent Collection," curator Rachel Magnus and the BMoA staff found works depicting "an array of interpretations" of a line.
The shortest distance between two points, the imagery of a line conveys progression, permanence and a glimpse of the past. The pieces in the show span 50 years in the collection, including those by Anne Marie Rousseau, who used India ink and ebony pencils on rag paper for stark works.
Both Adams' work and "LINE" will remain on display through August (Aug. 11 and 25, respectively).
Also remaining on display is "Astrid Preston: Poetics of Nature," which depicts the Swedish-born artist's story in a multitude of landscapes.
Paintings range from detailed close-ups to others that play with perspective within the piece. The scale, including the eight-panel "East-West" and imposing "Mountain Path" and a wall of smaller works, offer much for the viewer to explore.
The exhibit remains on display until April 14.