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UC Merced Library Celebrates Central Valley Culture

September 8, 2009

Series of art and literature exhibits highlight region’s rich heritage

UC Merced Libraryand
School of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts
are “Celebrating the Central Valley” with a
series of must-see special events designed to shine a spotlight on
the Valley’s unique cultural heritage.

Featuring breathtaking and poignant photography from the past
through today, the poetry and artifacts of Wilma McDaniel - perhaps
the most prolific female writer from the entire region - a lecture
by “Mr. Central Valley” Gerald Haslam and a guided walking tour of
the exhibits by photographer Stephen Johnson, the collection
promises to enlighten and entertain academics and those just
beginning to appreciate the rich heritage of the Central Valley alike.

“ ‘Celebrating the Central Valley’ is part of the goal of UC
Merced to recognize the cultural production of the Central Valley,”

Jan Goggans
, assistant professor of literature. “We write here
in the Central Valley, and we take photographs and we paint just as
they do in major cities like San Francisco and New York. It just
hasn’t been as widely known. Having a research university here
creates an opportunity for people to realize there’s stuff going on
here - there has been for a long time.”

The second floor of the library is the stage for “From Hobos to
Street People: Artists Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal
to Present,” an art exhibit that includes vivid and varied visual
interpretations of poverty and homelessness in California across
the past eight decades. The exhibit includes works by Dorothea
Lange, Rockwell Kent, Giacomo Patri, Francisco Dominguez, Jane “in
vain” Winckelman, Sandow Birk, Art Hazelwood and the San Francisco
Print Collective The exhibit is on display and runs through Oct. 25.

“From Hobos to Street People” is an ideal complement to “Okie
Poet Laureate: Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel,” the exhibit on the third
floor of the library that focuses exclusively on the Central Valley
and interprets the experiences of average people through the eyes
of a woman who was there, witnessing and living the same history.

“The McDaniel exhibit will contain a number of artifacts that
our library holds,” said Deputy University Librarian Donald
Barclay. “She had various ways of translating her experiences into
different forms of media; sometimes art, sometimes short stories,
sometimes poetry.”

The archives are not yet open to the public, but some of the
pieces will be on display.

Kacy Marume,
who graduated in May, spent her senior year
processing artifacts in the archive. She has returned as the
student curator for the exhibit since she is so intimately
acquainted with her work.

“If John Steinbeck is the male voice of the Dust Bowl, then
Wilma McDaniel is the female voice, telling the stories of women in
the Dust Bowl,” Goggans said.

The Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel Literary Estate donated large
portion of the poet’s personal effects and writings to UC Merced
Library to archive. The pieces featured in “Okie Poet Laureate”
were hand-selected to represent different elements of McDaniel’s
career for this exhibit. Although it will take time to process the
entire collection, Barclay and Goggans believe it is important to
begin sharing artifacts from this important poet who captured the
lives of those who endured poverty and prejudice for decades after
their arrival to the Valley from the Dust Bowl.

The McDaniel exhibit runs through Dec. 19 and, along with the
rest of the events and exhibits, is open to the public as well as
members of the UC Merced campus community.

To enrich the visitor’s experience, “A Celebration of the Life
and Work of Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, featuring Central Valley
writer Gerald Haslam” is an opportunity to listen to a lecture
delivered by the man who is an expert on all things Central Valley.
Haslam will present from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 16 in Room 355 of the
library. A reception will follow.

Stephen Johnson is an acclaimed local photographer whose works
are also featured in the library. Guests and visitors are invited
to attend his illustrated talk “An Artist and the Land: Stephen
Johnson and the Great Central Valley” plus a special walk-through
of the Great Central Valley Exhibit from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 17,
with a reception to follow. His and Robert Dawson’s photos rub
elbows with historic photos in Haslam’s book “The Great Central Valley.”


Sept. 16:“A Celebration of the Life and Work of
Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel featuring Central Valley writer Gerald
Haslam,” 7 to 8 p.m., UC Merced Library, Room 355. Reception to
follow. Info: 209-228-2997 or

Sept. 17: “An Artist and the Land: Stephen Johnson
and the Great Central Valley,” 7:30 to 9 p.m., UC Merced Library,
Room 355. Reception to follow. Info: 209-201-9724 or

Now through Oct. 25:“From Hobos to Street People:
Artists Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to Present,” UC
Merced Library, Second Floor. Info: 209-658-7146.

Now through Dec. 19:“Okie Poet Laureate: Wilma
Elizabeth McDaniel,” UC Merced Library, Third Floor. Info: 209-658-7146.


Tonya Luiz