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FRESNO– Opening Reception of Black Migrants to the Central Valley 1960-1964
July 13, 2018 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm$15
Benjamin Beavers watches his children play in front of their house, Teviston, CA 1961.
Photographs by Ernest Lowe
July 13, 2018 to January 13, 2019
Opening reception Friday, July 13, 2018, 6:00-8:00 pm
Artist/Curator talks to precede the reception in Bonner Auditorium (4:00 – 6:00 pm)
Fresno Art Museum
2233 N. First Ave
Fresno, CA 93705
During the 1940s and 1950s, some 40,000 African American sharecroppers migrated to California’s Central Valley, taking up residence in farm labor camps. Their rural to rural journey makes them the great exception to the Great Migration, which was overwhelmingly rural to urban. Shortly after arriving, these black migrants were all but put out of work by the mechanization of agriculture.
In the early 1960s, while reporting on migrant labor for KPFA radio, a young photographer, Ernest Lowe, captured powerful black and white images of life in the communities of Pixley and Dos Palos adjacent to Fresno, California. These townships were impoverished yet cohesive communities, lacking paved roads, electricity, running water, and other essential services. Lowe’s photographs are the sole extant document of this rural people’s journey to a land of broken promises.
His startlingly beautiful images of community, individuals, tasks, free time, housing, and church provide the viewer a local historical perspective on the migrant hardships they managed and survived.
This is an original exhibition of the Fresno Art Museum drawn from the historic negatives of Ernest Lowe and printed for the exhibition by photographer Joel Pickford. The selected photographs transport audiences back in time nearly sixty years to experience life in rural African American communities of the Central Valley.
Exhibition Curator: Michele Ellis Pracy, FAM Executive Director & Chief Curator
Exhibition Sponsors: Baker Peterson Franklin, CPA, LLC, Cal Humanities Community Stories Program, and West of West Center for Narrative History of the Central Valley.
Images (L to R): Ernest Lowe, Teviston Mother and Children Pause from Doing Laundry on Front Porch, October, 1964 and Clarence Marshall, Willie Brewster, and Lee Marshall with Joe’s Mercury, a Cart Made of a Melon Crate, South Dos Palos, July 12, 1961, Archival pigment prints, Courtesy of the Artist
Museum hours: Wednesday-Sunday 11-5
Press interviews: contact Joel Pickford (510) 386-1506