Best of Southern California Cultural History


This summer, Artbound celebrated its one-year anniversary and finished its second season of programming. Season 2 took our exploration of Southern California's cultural landscape to new heights: from the banks of the Tijuana river to underneath the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, from the vast high desert of the Antelope Valley to the beaches of San Diego. We explored art in museums and scrawled on sidewalks; performances under the stars and in the spotlights onstage. Since January, we've published 225 new articles, produced 14 short documentaries, and broadcast three hour-long television episodes.

Today, we look back at five of this season's memorable articles about Southern California history. California is a treasure trove of memories, from the vintage sheet music housed deep in library archives, to the set of a silent film buried in the Central Coast. Enjoy this blast from the past!

Harem Girls and Camel Races: Middle Eastern Fantasies in the Deserts of Southern CaliforniaLeft: Indio Scenic Guide Map, circa 1975. Middle: Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival Premium List, 1953. Right: Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival Pamphlet, 1950. | Courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California.

The towns in the eastern side of the Coachella Valley have long utilized romanticized portrayals of the Middle East to shape views of their own desert backyard.

California Dreaming and the Car Painters of the SoCal Landscape

Soren Emil Carlsen, "Autumn Landscape," 1904. Oil on canvas. | Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Gift of Mr. Scofield.

Rachel Rossner, curator of "California Dreaming: Plein-Air Painting from San Francisco to San Diego," shares observations about the beginnings of the plein-air landscape painting movement in California.

One Hundred and Fifty Years On: African American Military Portraits from the American Civil War

"Union Private and family," 1863-1865 Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs. | Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The California African American Museum's exhibit describes a more complex picture of mid-nineteenth century America than is usually projected into the public realm.

Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of the LAUSD Archives

Large Etruscan Vase | Courtesy of Venice High School Latin Museum collection.

The Los Angeles Unified School District Art and Archive Collection houses precious works of art and artifacts that were gifted over the span of 150 years.

Catching the Incurable Contagion: Black Los Angeles' Disco Queers

Disco music was a space of reconciliation for many black homosexuals who experienced the Christian church as a site of violence and alienation.

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Top Image: Date Festival Publicity Shot, 1958. | Courtesy of Ivan Henry at The Circus Blog.

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