Events Calendar


The Photo as Object and Object as Photo
Thursday, August 6, 2015, 6:30pm
Historic Techniques—The Photo as Object and Object as Photo

$5 for CHS members, $10 General Admission


Tim Pinault uses historical photography techniques to change the context of objects fraught with personal and cultural meaning. Interested in how photographs become cultural objects, Pinault will focus on how photographs are not only representations, but objects themselves. The medium itself can alter the meaning of the photograph.

Timothy Pinault is a San Francisco-based artist, educator, and archivist.

This event is a program in "Historic Techniques—A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

The Pico House
Thursday, August 6, 2015, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
LA History Keepers Opening Reception

Free event at the Pico House, 424 Main Street, Los Angeles

Join us for the launch of History Keepers: Storied Objects from Los Angeles Collections, a new exhibition by the California Historical Society and LA as Subject.

Photographs, documents, scrapbooks, and ephemera are some of the material objects that help us to tell and understand our history. What are the objects that tell the story of Los Angeles? Who collects them? What stories do they tell? In this exhibition celebrating Los Angeles's remarkable history, curious objects from collections housed across the Los Angeles region are displayed together at the historic Pico House in downtown El Pueblo de Los Ángeles to illuminate the history of this multifaceted city.

History Keepers: Storied Objects from Los Angeles Collections is presented in partnership with El Pueblo Historical Monument and the El Pueblo Park Association.

Teresa Roberts
Mike Santillan
Saturday, August 8, 2015, 11:30am - 2:00pm
History for Half Pints: Summer of Motion (Flight!)

Free with RSVP:

Every second Saturday of the month this summer we are presenting our series, Summer of Motion, exploring how guests traveled to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE): by car, train, or plane. This month we celebrate aviation and its role at the PPIE.

Activities include: Design/draw your own flying machine! Be inspired by images, both historic and contemporary, of planes in flight and create your own! Design your own World's Fair Palace at our Build the World's Fair Craft Project! Come learn about drones, googles glasses, and more from 11:30-1:00pm! Take a breather from all the travel and listen to a story from Screen Actors Guild Book Pal reader, Teresa Roberts at 1:00 pm. Take a seat or get up and dance to fun tunes with musician Mike Santillan at 1:30pm.

The Coney Island of the West: Alameda's Neptune Beach from the 1870s to the 1930s
Thursday, August 13, 2015, 6:00pm
The Coney Island of the West: Alameda's Neptune Beach from the 1870s to the 1930s

Free for CHS Members, $5 General Admission


Learn about Alameda's Neptune Beach, the "Coney Island of the West," and it's history as a pivotal attraction after the close of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Dennis Evanosky and Eric Kos, co-publishers of the Alameda Sun and co-authors of East Bay Then & Now and Lost Los Angeles, will present on west Alameda's bathing and beach resorts that established the Island City's recreational character beginning in the 1870s.

Sponsored by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

Stucco Fantasy: How the PPIE Influenced Roadside Architecture in California
Photo: California Historical Society
Thursday, August 27, 2015, 6:00pm
Stucco Fantasy: How the PPIE Influenced Roadside Architecture in California


Los Angeles historian Jim Heimann, author of Crazy California and Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture, will trace the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition’s fanciful, yet little-known, legacy of stucco construction from the fair’s Joy Zone to Hollywood set design and roadside architecture.

In partnership with San Francisco Heritage

History through Tin-Types
Thursday, September 3, 2015, 6:30pm
Historic Techniques—History through Tin-Types

$5 for CHS members, $10 General Admission


Ed Drew uses the photographic process of tintype as a foil to reference American culture and history.

Drew's first body of work involved photographing his military unit in Afghanistan using the technique of wet plate tintype. Created in between the helicopter combat missions he flew as a combat search-and-rescue gunner, these photographs are the first made of American soldiers in war since the Civil War.

For his most recent work, Drew was commissioned by the Klamath tribes of Oregon in conjunction with Klamath Tribal Health services, which included Modoc tribal members who were relocated from their homelands in Tule Lake, California, after the Modoc War in 1872–73. The work speaks of a reflection of the past to show the progression of the contemporary, while redefining the tribal peoples' definition of self as strong, proud individuals.

Ed Drew was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and joined the military in 1999, two days after his eighteeth birthday. He has served for six years in the active duty Air Force and where currently serves in the California Air National Guard as a Staff Sergeant and helicopter gunner on Combat Search and Rescue helicopters stationed in Moffett Field, near Mountain View. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco Art Institute where he received a BFA majoring in Sculpture and minoring in Photography. He currently lives in the East Bay.

This event is a program in "Historic Techniques—A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

History Speaks—Junípero Serra
Thursday, September 10, 2015, 6:00pm
History Speaks—Junípero Serra

Free for CHS members, $5 General Admission


Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz, authors of Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, present a new and engaging interpretation of Fr. Junípero Serra, founder of the California missions. Focusing on Serra's religious identity and his relations with Native peoples, and using new and accessible translations of many of Serra's letters and sermons, they interpret Serra neither as a saint nor as the personification of the Black Legend and recount his life from his birth in a small farming village on Mallorca to his experiences in central Mexico and Baja California, to the tumultuous fifteen years he spent as founder of the California missions. Analyzing Serra's Franciscan ideals in their eighteenth-century context, Beebe and Senkewicz allow us to understand more fully the differences and similarities between his world and ours. Combining history, culture, and linguistics, they convey the power and nuance of Serra's voice and, ultimately, his impact on history.

Rose Marie Beebe is Professor of Spanish Literature at Santa Clara University. Robert M. Senkewicz is Professor of History at Santa Clara University. Together they have authored and edited numerous books, including The History of Alta California, Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535–1846; Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815–1848; and "To Toil in That Vineyard of the Lord": Contemporary Scholarship on Junípero Serra.

In partnership with the Mexican Museum.

Historic Techniques—Panel with California Artists
(Clockwise from top right) Kate Gibson's The Good Girl, Ben Wood's The Walls Have Eyes, and Leslie Morgan's Early Lesbians2
Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture)
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 7:00pm
Historic Techniques—Panel with California Artists

Los Altos History Museum, 51 So. San Antonio Road, Los Altos

$5 for LAHM and CHS members, $10 general admission

RSVP: Call 650-948-9427 x14 and say you are a CHS member

Join us for a fascinating panel discussion with California artists working at the intersection of art, science, and history. As part of the discussion, the artists will show off their work. We'll finish the evening with a documentary/performance about British photographer Eadweard Muybridge, via a magic lantern, bringing the audience back to the experimental period of the 1870s when Muybridge captured a horse in motion. Panelists include: Hardy Jones, Leslie Morgan, Kate Gibson, and Ben Wood.

This program, part of "Historic Techniques—A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History," is a partnership between the Los Altos History Museum (LAHM) and the California Historical Society (CHS).

Aura and the Spectacle of Light
Thursday, October 1, 2015, 6:30pm
Historic Techniques—Aura and the Spectacle of Light

$5 for CHS members, $10 General Admission


Electrophotography. St. Elmo's Fire. Kirlean imaging. All are names for an unusual type of photography in which a high-voltage electromagnetic discharge is used to expose film directly, without a camera. Filmmaker and photographer Kerry Laitala will present a lecture tracing this process to its origins in the 1880s, when Nikola Tesla captured images of his "Tesla Coil," discussing some of the beliefs that have sprung up around the process, and demonstrating how she utilizes it in her contemporary art practice.

Since 2010 Laitala has been exploring this process to create a body of work residing at the intersection between science and superstition, belief and manifestation. She electrifies materials ranging from vintage letter-press blocks to Mexican "Milagros" that are often left at churches and other places of worship. These objects, in the shape of hearts, legs, and kneeling forms, become talismans to help people with ailments, and to fulfill their desires. Laitala will show examples of these works as well as a video filmed in her South of Market studio about how she electrifies the objects to bring out the discharge, leaving its luminous trace on the surface of the film.

Kerry Laitala is an award-winning moving-image artist who uses analog, digital, and hybrid forms to investigate the ways in which media influences culture-at-large. Laitala's work involves science, history, technology, and her uncanny approach to evolving systems of belief through installation, photography, para-cinema, performance, kinetic sculpture, and single-channel forms. She is the current recipient of the San Francisco Arts Commission's Individual Artist Commission to create and display a new series of electrophotographs.

This event is a program in "Historic Techniques—A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

Transformations in SF Public Transit—Then, Now, Tomorrow
Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 6:00pm
Transformations in SF Public Transit—Then, Now, Tomorrow

Free for CHS Members, $5 General Admission


The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) celebrated the emergence of San Francisco from the devastation of the 1906 earthquake and fire, launching it as the most modern city in the world, an economic gateway between the United States, the Pacific, and Europe, and a cultural center. The Palace of Fine Arts and the Civic Auditorium are lasting monuments to the PPIE. An artistic and programmatic success, the exposition's financial success was dependent on its transportation system. Learn how PPIE infrastructure improvements have served San Franciscans every day for the past 100 years and how these arteries are being transformed today to serve us during the next century: Central Subway, Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit, and E-Embarcadero Streetcars to Fort Mason.

Panelists include: Grant Ute, historian and author of San Francisco Municipal Railway, Alameda by Rails, and San Francisco's Market Street Railway; Michael Schwartz, Senior Transportation Planner, San Francisco County Transportation Authority; and Tilly Chang, Executive Director, San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Greg King, Environmental Manager for Parsons Corp., will moderate.

Sponsored by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

Seeing Voices: Using Light to Restore and Preserve Early Sound Recordings
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 6:30pm
Historic Techniques—Seeing Voices: Using Light to Restore and Preserve Early Sound Recordings

$5 for CHS members, $10 General Admission


Sound was first recorded and reproduced by Thomas Edison in 1877. Until about 1950, when magnetic tape use became common, most recordings were made on mechanical media such as wax, foil, shellac, lacquer, and plastic. Some of these older recordings contain material of great historical interest, may be in obsolete formats, and are damaged, decaying, or are now considered too delicate to play.

Unlike print and latent image scanning, the playback of mechanical sound carriers has been an inherently invasive process. Recently, a series of techniques, based upon non-contact optical metrology and image processing, have been applied to create and analyze high-resolution digital surface profiles of these materials. Numerical methods may be used to emulate the stylus motion through such a profile in order to reconstruct the recorded sound.

A number of recordings of particular relevance to early twentieth-century California have been restored using this approach. Included is a recording of Jack London from 1915 and a variety of California Native American field recordings. A new project is also underway at the University of California, Berkeley to digitize the 2700 Native American wax field recordings collected by Alfred Kroeber and coworkers.

The technical approach, the California collections, as well as studies of some of the earliest known sound recordings, are the focus of this talk and will be illustrated with sounds and images. Additional information can be found at

Carl Haber, an experimental physicist, received his Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia University and is a Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His career has focused on the development of instrumentation and methods for detecting and measuring particles created at high-energy colliders, including Fermilab in the United States and CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. Since 2002 he and his colleagues have been involved in aspects of preservation science, applying methods of precision measurement and data analysis to early recorded sound restoration. He is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

This event is a program in "Historic Techniques—A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

Food at the Fair
Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 6:00pm
Food at the Fair

Free for CHS Members; $5 General Admission


Food played a huge role at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Visitors to the fair learned about new fruit hybrids, cookware innovations, leading Napa wines, and many other wonders in the Palace of Food Products; they tasted the winners of culinary competitions, such as Larraburu sourdough bread; they snacked on enchiladas, chop suey, and clam chowder; and they explored San Francisco's restaurants during their stay in the city.

The Culinary Historians of Northern California is partnering with CHS to host a panel discussing the edible elements of the Exposition experience. Attendees will be offered light refreshments, including a sampling of relevant historic dishes. Panelists: Jeannette Ferrary, author of M.F.K. Fisher and Me: A Memoir of Food and Friendship, Out of the Kitchen: Adventures of a Food Writer, and The California-American Cookbook: Innovations on American Regional Dishes; Julia Lavaroni (grandniece of Harold Paul, the long-time owner of Larraburu Brothers Bakery), who is currently producing a film on San Francisco's iconic Larraburu bread, which won first place at the Exposition; and Erica J. Peters, Director, Culinary Historians of Northern California, and author of San Francisco: A Food Biography.

In partnership with the Culinary Historians of Northern California

Sponsored by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

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