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Thu, Jan 27, 2022

Morgan Gates

Morgan Gates - Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History Public Fellow

A Diary for the New Year: 1908-1911

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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The MAH is an important cultural resource known for its exhibitions, programs, collections, and publications, housed within a civic landmark in the heart of downtown. It is distinguished by its community collaboration, eclecticism, and commitment to being a museum without walls—a major step towards being the revitalization of Abbott Square, which enabled us to connect with the community outside our physical building. The MAH is without walls in another sense too, as we work to ensure that all of our spaces—indoor, outdoor, and online—are welcoming and inclusive for all people.

To celebrate our special anniversary, we offer a humongous sphere of colorful happiness as our gift to the community that has supported us for more than 25 years. Our institution was founded on the idea of using art and local history to bring people together—a belief that is still core to our mission. We see this milestone year as a way to honor the past and embrace the future. And like the RedBall itself, we will continue to invite others into our story by igniting shared experiences and unexpected connections.

You can find the RedBall squeezed into and around well-known Santa Cruz landmarks by following the MAH and the artist on social media (@santacruzmah and @redballproject). We also invite you to follow the traveling artwork around live each day as local buildings, parks, piers, and more become the canvas for this celebratory installation.

Here is the full RedBall schedule, on view each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.:

  • Tue, June 8: Santa Cruz Wharf
  • Wed, June 9: Del Mar Theater in downtown Santa Cruz
  • Thu, June 10: Esplanade Park Bandshell near Capitola Village
  • Fri, June 11: Cabrillo College in downtown Watsonville Center
  • Sat, June 12: The MAH in downtown Santa Cruz
  • Sun, June 13: Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz

To learn more about the founders, visionaries, and benefactors of the first 25 years of the MAH, please read our Looking Back, Moving Forward publication or view our commemorative video.

Thank you for celebrating the MAH’s silver anniversary with us. We look forward to the next 25 years together!

— Robb Woulfe, Executive Director

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There are also times when I wish he said more in his diary. In 1910, Edward’s family moved from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the City of Santa Cruz. Edward finished school and officially joined the workforce. Armed with a paycheck, Edward also develops a taste for Santa Cruz culture.

September 1910

12 I worked. Ma painted part of the kitchen and pantry. Leslie and I went to a moving picture show.

13 I worked. I worked hard today Had to dig a ditch by myself. Leslie went to school. Hot day.

14 It rained. I worked. Ma got some books out of the library. She got some paints for Leslie.

15 It rained. I worked. I went to the Grand theater in the evening.

16 I worked. Nothing stirring but the bread line.

What movie did he and his brother Leslie see on September 12? What did he see at the grand theater? In other entries he describes the places he would go, such as the Casino (now Cocoanut Grove), the Plunge (now Neptune’s Kingdom), and the wharf. Edward’s diary reminds me of things that change but also the things that stay the same. I have enjoyed all those places in my leisure time as well. Also, Edward mentions the breadline. He reminds us that the story of Santa Cruz in the twentieth century and beyond is a story of both luxury and poverty. The bread lines are still here.

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As Edward gets older, the entries in the diary become a bit longer, a bit more complicated as we would expect from a teenager. He talks about more things, yet he still withholds writing about his feelings. A young girl named Lila Olmsted begins to make frequent appearances in the diary. Edward takes her to movies. Spends time with her frequently. Edward and his family are preparing to move however, so he “bought a box of note paper and some violet ink to write to” her. I think that shows Edward to be sweet and considerate. And he did write to her. It also shows that as a young person he deals with the same kinds of feelings that many experience in their teenage years, and has to learn to navigate personal relationships in the way people do in their teen years.

Edward’s diary can be read through the MAH archives here. English language readers and learners of many ages will find his diaries accessible. Edward’s language in very rare instances reflects the language and attitudes about ethnic communities that were commonplace in his time. Many readers may find these instances offensive. While we do not endorse those uses of language or attitudes, they serve as an accurate reminder and record of the ways that even very young people are susceptible to cultural bias. Young readers, especially, should be given the opportunity to talk about this. This resource (“How to Use Children’s Books to Talk About Race and Racism”) is a good starting point. It offers many good questions and strategies for having a conversation with young readers and for increasing their exposure to diversity and history through reading. There are lots of other questions to ask about his diaries and more to learn. He records earthquakes, sporting events, elections, his spending habits, books he’s read, fish he’s caught, the kind of food he ate and more things of interest to readers of all kinds.

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