de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

Hobos to Street People: Artists' Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present

July 29 - December 4, 2011

Kent & Hanlon

Hobos to Street People compares artistic interpretations of homelessness from the Dust Bowl migrants of the 1930s to the stigmatized street people of today—with a focus on California. Produced in 2008 to mark the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, this exhibition hearkens back to a time in which the United States government responded to the devastating impact of the Great Depression to assist those in poverty.

Over the years, artists have explored different aspects of poverty and homelessness. During the Depression, WPA artists portrayed the lives of the poorest Americans both in "noble" and negative images. The work of artists such as Dorothea Lange often appeared in popular magazines such as Life and Time, profoundly influencing attitudes towards poverty. From World War II through the 1980s, artists tended to portray the homeless as degenerates unworthy of the government's interest. Contemporary California artists, however, are witnessing, documenting, and commenting on today's poverty in ways more akin to the artists of the Depression era. This exhibition reflects this evolution and examines one of the most fundamental of human needs: shelter.

Hobos to Street People features original works by artists who bring a wide range of cultural viewpoints, historical perspectives, and positions on the topic, including Dorothea Lange (featuring works from the de Saisset Museum's permanent collection), Rockwell Kent, Giacomo Patri, Francisco Dominguez, Jane "in vain" Winckleman, Sandow Birk, Art Hazelwood, and the San Francisco Print Collective.

Hobos to Street People is an Exhibit Envoy traveling exhibition funded by the James Irvine Foundation, LEF Foundation, and Fleishhacker Foundation. Exhibit Envoy is a network of professionally operated museums and cultural organizations that collaborates to create and tour smaller, high quality exhibitions that enhance civic engagement and human understanding.

Exhibit Envoy logo

Images, left to right: Rockwell Kent, And Now Where?, 1936, lithograph, Courtesy of Plattsburgh State Art Museum, on loan from private collection. Christine Hanlon, Third Street Corridor, 1998, oil on canvas, courtesy of the artist.
Related Programs

Panel Discussion with Paul Boden, Gray Brechin, and Art Hazelwood
Thurs., September 29,
7 p.m., FREE


Family Day
Sat., October 8,
1-4 p.m., FREE


College Night

Thurs., November 3,
7-11 p.m., FREE

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