California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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New UC Press Journal, “BOOM”: Call for Papers

University of California Press | Journals + Digital Publishing.

From: Kim Robinson <>
Subject: Boom – call for submissions

Dear friends,
As you may know, UC Press is launching an exciting new publication focused on California — Boom: A Journal of California. (See press release with details here –

Below is the call for papers, and you can find the submission guidelines through the link. Please share this with your network of writers, photographers, thinkers, do-ers, artists, and other creative types in California and beyond.

All best,

Boom:  A Journal of California
Call for Submissions

At no time in recent history has the Golden State been so adrift. But
futures do not beckon. They are made. What should ours be?

We announce that Boom: A Journal of California is now accepting
submissions.  A new, cross-disciplinary publication that explores the
history, culture, arts, politics, and society of California, Boom will
publish quarterly, with its debut issue in February 2011.  Published
by University of California Press, this magazine-format, highly visual
journal will feature scholars, independent writers, and community and
civic activists engaging the most pressing issues of the day.

Boom invites new questions.  How, for instance, do we balance
California’s penchant for innovation with an informed grasp of the
past?  What are the connections and contests between and among the
coast and the inland, the cities and the country, the border and the
state? How have all these places shaped and been shaped by the world
beyond? Work, community, environment, culture, and politics have as
many definitions as there are people experiencing them.  How might new
perspectives help us remake California and its place in the world?

Boom embraces answers in unusual formats, including photos, essays,
documents, artwork, first-person accounts, and engaged scholarly
essays.  If you have California work, see our submission guidelines to
consider which area of Boom best suits your piece. Living in
California, we anticipate flux, so let us know if you have ideas that
don’t fit our categories. Guidelines attached.

For too long, Californians have lacked a venue for statewide
discussions of our past, our tumultuous present, and the possible
contours of our future. It’s time for Boom.

Louis Warren
Carolyn de la Peña

Kim Robinson
Regional Publisher
University of California Press
2120 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Boom: A Journal of California
Want to submit to Boom? Find guidelines here:

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Tribute to activist Alice McGrath in the L.A. Times

On Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, the L.A.Times published an op-ed tribute by Carlos Valdez Lozano to longtime activist Alice McGrath, who died at the age of 92 on Nov. 27.  McGrath was involved in social justice movements going back decades in California.  In the ’40s she played a key role coordinating efforts to overturn the wrongful “Sleepy Lagoon” murder convictions of 12 Mexican American men.  (She was a close friend of Carey McWilliams and it was he who persuaded her to become the director of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee.)

From the article:

She helped organize a birthday celebration in Los Angeles in 1951 for the distinguished African American author W.E.B. Du Bois, who later became a dear friend; she taught martial arts to women (because she believed it would empower them) and wrote a book about it called “Self-Defense for Cowards”; though not a lawyer herself, she developed a legal aid program for the poor in Ventura County; and she led 85 humanitarian aid trips to war-scarred Nicaragua.

She was also an invincible conversationalist, an orthodox liberal (make that radical), a great teller of jokes and an awful lot of fun to be around. Her life’s work may have been about helping others, but she would be the first to tell you she was no saint.

“Never pass up the opportunity to have a good time” was one of her commandments. And she meant it

She was no pistol. She was a cannon. She had a serious mind and focused on serious things, but she also liked her vodka martinis and had a wit to match Dorothy Parker’s.

Her 1950s FBI file declared that the one-time communist sympathizer had “no known weaknesses.”

I once asked her if that was true. She replied, rather dismissively, “Oh, that’s just because they didn’t think women liked sex back then.”

For the complete article, click here.

Posted by Frank Gruber, Dec. 7, 2009

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Autry launches new “Out West” series Dec. 13

On Sunday, December 13, 2009, at 3PM the Autry National Center will launch its new “Out West” series exploring the  Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT)  community’s contributions to the American West.

The initial program will be a panel discussion, “What Ever Happened to Ennis del Mar?” that features Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times film critic), William Handley (Professor of English at USC), Peter Nardi (Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College) and will be moderated by Virginia Scharff (Women of the West Chair at the Autry and Professor of History at the University of New Mexico).

The program is free, but as seating is limited and demand is very high, reservations are strongly encouraged (and, if one makes a reservation, one must be sure to attend!).  To make a reservation, email Belinda Nakasato-Suarez (<>

The Out West series is made possible by the generous support of HBO, Tom Gregory, the Gill Foundation, the Small Change Foundation, in association with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Human Rights Campaign, and the Courage Campaign.

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Émigré Designers in California: L.A. History Research Group Talk, Dec. 5

The next meeting of the Los Angeles History Research Group for 2009-2010 will take place on Saturday, December 5, 2009, in Seaver Classroom 3 of the Munger Research Center at The Huntington.  The meeting begins at 10:00 a.m., with coffee available at 9:30.

Bobbye Tigerman, Assistant Curator, Decorative Arts and Design, at Los Angeles County Museum Art, will deliver a talk titled “Émigré Designers in California,” which discusses the LACMA exhibition “California Design 1930-1965: ‘Living in a Modern Way’” as well as the Pacific Standard Time project funded by the Getty.  No paper will be circulated prior to the event, but a question and answer session will follow Tigerman’s presentation.

If for more information, contact one of the coordinators listed below.

Nick Rosenthal, <>

Allison Varzally, <>

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Arts and the Economy Report from The NewsHour 2009: Spark | KQED Public Media

Arts and the Economy Report from The NewsHour 2009: Spark | KQED Public Media for Northern CA.

Friend of the CSA, Gray Brechin, appeared on PBS’s the News Hour with Jim Lehrer tonight, discussing the idea of creating a “new New Deal” for public art. Brechin appears amid the backdrop of the frescoes in Coit Tower-ed

“It’s out here for the community to see. This is not something I can afford to do anymore.”
— Sirron Norris

When the economy takes a turn for the worse, arts institutions and programs often suffer from cutbacks because of the perception that the arts are a dispensable luxury. But even as the Obama administration puts together an economic stimulus package that includes $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), economists such as Amity Schlaes debate what the federal government’s role should be in sustaining a vibrant arts community in America.

Spark, in a joint report with The NewsHour, looks at the impact of the economic recession on artists such as muralist Sirron Norris and writer Carla Blank and discusses whether a public arts program similar to the Federal Art Project (FAP) of the 1930s is a viable way to help artists who are feeling the financial pinch.

During the Great Depression, amidst programs that would eventually employ some 3.3 million people, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration actively sought to bring relief to working artists by sponsoring a wide range of public-art projects as part of the New Deal. These projects helped, among others, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Philip Evergood and Lee Krasner.

Under director Holger Cahill, the FAP — following in the footsteps of Roosevelt’s earlier Public Works of Art Project, whose purpose was “to give work to artists by arranging to have competent representatives of the profession embellish public buildings” — created more than 5,000 jobs for artists and left a legacy of 225,000 works of art for the American public in the eight years of its existence. With offices in 48 states, the FAP commissioned works of art for numerous public buildings, managed community centers and arts programs, and sponsored exhibitions across the country. By the time the program came to a close with the advent of World War II, the thousands of artworks produced under its auspices, many of them still enjoyed today, had not only decorated American institutions and given struggling artists temporary employment, but also helped document American life.

But even beyond the aesthetic gratification that art provides is the idea that the arts can actually help drive economic prosperity — that bolstering the creative sector significantly helps the larger economy. A 2008 study, Artists in the Workforce, released by the NEA estimates that there are 2 million artists working in the United States, equivalent to 1.4 percent of the American workforce. Even more non-artists are employed by arts organizations in administrative and production roles. The research organization Americans for the Arts notes that “nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion in economic activity every year, support 5.7 million jobs and return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year. Every $1 billion in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences results in almost 70,000 full-time jobs.”

As Carla Blank states in a 2009 op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, “The 21st-century version of New Deal arts programs could feature creative partnerships between artists and scientists, engineers, businesses, educators, skilled labor, city planners and community leaders throughout our nation’s cities and rural communities. When such collaborations are successful, they are called a renaissance.”