Mc Queens at Killian

Thu, May 19, 2022

Jenna Clancy

Jenna Clancy - Membership Coordinator

Member Spotlight: They Belong.

A big red ball has rolled into town to commemorate the MAH’s 25th anniversary. Titled RedBall Project, this inflatable mobile sculpture by American artist Kurt Perschke has been traveling the world since 2001.

Measuring 15 feet in diameter and weighing 250 pounds, the public artwork has already started its weeklong journey around Santa Cruz County. The giant orb is popping up in places both unlikely and familiar, exploring the area’s unique architectural landscape and history in a series of daily installations ranging from the Santa Cruz Wharf and downtown Watsonville to the MAH itself.

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So why a red ball? Here's an explanation from Perschke:

The magnetic, playful, and charismatic nature of the RedBall allows the work to access the imagination embedded in all of us. On the surface, the experience seems to be about the ball itself as an object, but the true power of the project is what it can create for those who experience it. It opens a doorway to imagine what if?

For me, the experience is more than just imagination; it represents the creative impulse that lies in all of us—the simple act of seeing a place with fresh eyes. Besides its obvious connection to the MAH’s visual iconography, the RedBall is a great representation of the spirit and vision of our museum, which for a quarter century has pushed beyond its four walls into the community. It challenges us to transform and redefine spaces, and like the MAH, it meets people where they are, offering a different kind of access point.

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This month marks 25 years since our museum officially came into existence—the result of the 1996 merging of the Santa Cruz Historical Society (founded in 1954) and the Art Museum of Santa Cruz County (founded in 1981).

In fact, the MAH’s story dates back to the mid-1980s, when its parent organizations joined forces to build a center for art, history, and community in downtown Santa Cruz. With support from the McPherson family, local donations, and a federal grant following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the ribbon was cut on the new McPherson Center—the core structure of the museum’s campus—before the two cultural entities merged into one.

Today, the MAH is recognized as one of the most creative and forward-thinking community museums in the country, distinguished by its trailblazing programs and interdisciplinary approach to community building.

Eaton Family2

In 2022 we will also introduce our new research-based residency programs, which this year support the work of mixed-media artists/activists Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra, and historian/culture bearer Luna HighJohn-Bey. We bring back Beyond the Grave—our popular new performance series at Evergreen Cemetery, as well as after-hours programming with Late Night @ the MAH, gallery talks, film screenings, and artist conversations at the museum. We will present beloved favorites like Día de los Muertos along with our full slate of programming—from K-12 field trips and bilingual family offerings to our history podcast and the Blue Plaque Landmark Awards. In May, the MAH will serve as the host site for the Santa Cruz History Fair. And then in September, we are excited to debut CommonGround, a new 10-day festival of place-inspired, outdoor work in rural, urban, and architectural settings throughout the county.

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Names: Matt, Vanessa, Gavin and Ryder

MAH Member Since: 2017

Reason For Joining: We love supporting the arts and our local museum community. The MAH brings families and generations together- through the wonderful visiting exhibitions and permanent collection, we have learned about the rich history of our local area, and the amazing artists native to Santa Cruz and CA. Plus, they offer fun events year round!

Favorite MAH Memory: It’s hard to choose just one as there are several. The two that really standout- the Screaming Hand exhibit from 2016 and the Day of the Dead event during First Friday last year. We feel lucky to be members of the MAH!

To learn more on how you can get involved at the MAH, please visit our membership page.

Image: Christina and Mayari McQueen at Tom Killian exhibition member event, 2019.

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