It Happened Here Narration
June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
It Happened Here
Our current gallery show, “It Happened Here” seeks to narrate California’s journey from war to prosperity, and from political upheaval and conflict back to prosperity using original material from our collection. We feature posters from World War II, a special collection of Political and Protest Posters from the Bay Area, and the work of Berkeley’s own poster artist David Lance Goines. The posters represent how the West reacted to and embraced the monumental changes of the second half of the twentieth century.
Post War Prosperity
World War II helped pull the United States out of the Depression.
Munitions and shipyard work poured money into the economy and the composition of the workforce changed dramatically because so many men went to war. For the first time, American workers of different racial and economic backgrounds found themselves side by side, united with a common cause.
The United States experienced an economic boom in the 1950s, a result of the GI Bill that produced an educated work force, and the expansion of technologies and means of production during the war. This created a wealthy nation with a positive outlook. Americans bought houses and durable goods, and had children, producing the baby boom. The American dream expanded from its pre-war ‘chicken in every pot’ to bigger dreams of luxury and prosperity. And the number of Americans expanded dramatically as well.
The new middle class of the 1950s produced a generation that ‘had it all’. These children who came of age in the 1960s wanted for nothing material. With their basic needs more than met, individuals sought different kinds of fulfillment, and began to question both the dominant culture and the military industrial complex that the United States had built in the 20th Century.
While women had joined the workforce in World War II, they returned home in the 50s and 60s, where they enjoyed a new lifestyle full of durable goods and convenience foods. The possibility of fulfillment outside the home existed as a memory for American women, and manifested itself in the second wave of the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
People of color had also achieved material success during World War II. Some enlisted, while many worked in munitions factories and shipyards, resulting a in a second wave of migration to port cities such as Chicago, Oakland, and Los Angeles. After the war, integration was slow and tensions played out in church bombings, battles over school bussing, and lunch counters. The Black Power, Chicano Rights, and Indian Rights Movements were born out of these struggles.
Berkeley Bohemians and San Francisco Seekers
David Lance Goines attended UC Berkeley and was a part of the Free Speech Movement, during which he was jailed along with Mario Savio. At the time, he had been learning printing in Berkeley. After prison, the University seemed irrelevant, and Goines dropped out and fully committed himself to his press, St. Heironymous.
In 1968, Goines and his friend Alice Waters created ‘Thirty Recipes Suitable for Framing” which were sold at the shop ‘The Kitchen” in Berkeley. The first edition of 500 sold out in three days. Thus began Goines’s career as the poster artist for the then nascent restaurant Chez Panisse. Over time Goines produced posters for such legends at Velo Sport, Peet’s Coffee, Cody’s Books, Acme Bread, Ravenswood, Mr. Espresso, and many Bay Area and national clients. The products represented were the luxuries enjoyed by the Bohemians who populated the Bay Area in the 1970’s. Wine, Good Coffee, Bicycles and Books are still defining parts of our lives in the Bay Area.
This post was written by Elizabeth Norris, collector of peace and conflict posters, and owner of Vintage European Posters, and edited by Emily Jackson, Media Director.
You can see “It Happened Here” at our showroom, “Outpost” located at 2201 Fourth Street in Berkeley, open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11-5 and by appointment. Our pop-up open weekend this month is June 8-9. The show closes on July 3rd.
To view our full collection of over 1,000 original vintage posters, visit our website.
You can also see us at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles on June 21-23.