San Francisco Labor Landmark Photography


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Stunning photography by artists Wendy Crittenden and Tom Griscom in contrasting styles, featuring locations important to the San Francisco labor movement. Exhibition catalog is available on iTunes and Blurb print on demand:

The images supplied in this presentation are intended for academic purposes only; text is copyright Kim Munson, rights to images are held by Griscom and Crittenden.

This work will be on display at the Special Collections Gallery, J. Paul Leonard Library, San Francisco State University, March 19 - August 9, 2015. Opening event April 2.

Published in: Design, Art & Photos, Business
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  • If anyone viewing this in San Francisco, I will be presenting new research about the origins of the Arm & Hammer emblem at the Labor Archives and Research Center (SFSU) as part of Laborfest on July 19 at 2:00. I will post the presentation here afterword. Tom Griscom, the photographer that took the black & white panorama photos will display some of these pieces in the Laborfest art show at SOMARTS starting July 9.
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San Francisco Labor Landmark Photography

  1. 1. Dual Views: Labor Landmarks of San Francisco Labor Archives & Research Center Exhibition March 19 – August 7, 2015. Opening event April 2. San Francisco State University Library, 4th Floor Gallery Curator/Author : Kim Munson ( Photography by Wendy Crittenden & Tom Griscom
  2. 2. Opening Event! • Join us for our opening event Thursday, April 2 from 5-7pm at the Special Collections Gallery on the 4th floor of the library on the SFSU campus. • The program includes a talk by Professor Robert Cherny on the significance and history of the landmarks in the show, and the artists Crittenden & Griscom speaking about their work. • Show will be up during regular gallery hours through August 7. A LaborFest speaker event is being planned in July. Exhibition Catalog • 75pg book features exclusive photos, interviews and resources. • Available from iTunes and Blurb print on demand:
  3. 3. Invisible to us, the streets of San Francisco are layered with the sweat and blood of generations of working people, who built (and rebuilt) this city, raised their families, and fought for their rights. In 2008, in the recovery following the web 2.0 tech crash, LARC’s San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guidebook inspired three SFSU graduate students to investigate this explosive history: photographers Wendy Crittenden and Tom Griscom and art historian Kim Munson. We grew curious about how these past events left their mark in the physical environment. Did anyone remember the blue collar roots of these neighborhoods and landmarks? With these questions in mind, Wendy and Tom wandered the city separately like modern day flâneurs, giving us a glimpse of these locations through the lens of their dissimilar yet complimentary styles. Tom's classic black and white panoramas, contrasted with Wendy's skewed color c-prints, call to mind past and present, time and space, the ethereal and the tangible, showing the significance these sites have in the city's vitally important labor history. They enhance our appreciation for the sublime, and often dark, beauty of these landmarks. Some sites have become icons, while others have been long forgotten, left in a state of decay or completely reclaimed by nature. We decided to show this work now, as San Francisco experiences yet another reinvention, struggling to decide what kind of a city it wants to be, and should be. A future imbued with an intelligent recognition of the value of its past is more likely to be a city we will all want to live in. Introduction
  4. 4. Tom Griscom, Port of Oakland, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 36”
  5. 5. Wendy Crittenden, cranes, 2008. 30” x 30” C-print mounted on aluminum.
  6. 6. The Waterfront & Bloody Thursday The working piers that drove the economy of the city are now museums, restaurants and tourist attractions. Following the 1989 earthquake, the freeway that surrounded the water’s edge around the Embarcadero was demolished, opening up new waterfront view property. Blocks of million dollar condos seemed to appear overnight, followed by a classic open-air baseball stadium, home of the SF Giants. Red’s is one of the last holdovers from the 1930’s, on that spot since 1928. The corner of Mission and Steuart Streets in front of the Audiffred Building (itself one of the only surviving buildings from the 1906 earthquake), is the location of one of the most violent labor conflicts in SF history between police, armed guards and maritime workers in 1934, which tragically included the shooting of two workers, and injuries to hundreds of others. The National Guard roamed the Embarcadero with bayonets and machine guns. It was followed by a solemn funeral procession down Market Street and, a few days later, the first city wide General Strike in the US. At the site, Crittenden was reminded of bullets flying while looking at a wire array from a trolley turnaround, while Griscom chose to view the site from a distance, centering it at the end of a long line of contemporary buildings that have grown up around it. Griscom’s photos of Market Street, site of the funeral procession, will also be on display. The gallery exhibition will include many historical artifacts from LARC’s deep collection of items related to this event include newspapers from the time, vintage photos, the autopsy report on the shooting of the two workers, artwork, and more.
  7. 7. “Next to the Audiffred Building, a post with MUNI wires immediately reminded me of bullets flying through the air.” ~Wendy Crittenden Wendy Crittenden, bloody thursday, 2008. Two 30” x 30” C-prints mounted on aluminum.
  8. 8. Tom Griscom, Beale Street, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 83”
  9. 9. Wendy Crittenden, red's, 2008. 30” x 30” C-print mounted on aluminum.
  10. 10. Tom Griscom, Red’s Java, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 67”
  11. 11. South of Market Prior to the redevelopment of the Yerba Buena Gardens area, the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway, and the 1990’s tech boom, the SOMA area was mostly light industrial and a tough neighborhood with affordable housing. As a sign of strength after the violence of 1934 strikes, several maritime unions and supporting industries built meeting halls and factories on Rincon Hill. The architecturally heroic 1940’s fortress of the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific, and Klockers Blacksmithing are two of the most significant remaining buildings. The gallery exhibit will also include photos from the Yerba Buena redevelopment, drawings and photos of sailors and the sailor’s hall, and a set of iron tools that may have been manufactured by Klockers.
  12. 12. Wendy Crittenden, sailor's union of the pacific 1, 2008. 30” x 30” C-print mounted on aluminum.
  13. 13. Wendy Crittenden, klocker's blacksmithing, 2008. 30” x 30” C-print mounted on aluminum.
  14. 14. Glen Park Former site of the Giant Powder, the first commercial dynamite factory in the United States, opened in 1868 by the Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel, who held the patent on the process. Due to a series of accidents, the company moved several times, each time further from populated areas. It has since become an urban oasis, completely reclaimed by nature. “In my imagination, it’s like a progressive series of Wiley Coyote-type explosions heading ever further out of town.” ~Kim Munson
  15. 15. Tom Griscom, Glen Park Grasses, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 60”
  16. 16. Tom Griscom, Glen Park Trees, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 56”
  17. 17. Wendy Crittenden, giant powder 1, 2008. Two 30” x 30” C-prints mounted on aluminum.
  18. 18. Wendy Crittenden, giant powder 2, 2008. Two 30” x 30” C-prints mounted on aluminum.
  19. 19. Dogpatch Dogpatch is a light industrial area that is rapidly gentrifying and the site of the historic Copra Crane. The Copra Crane is the last of its kind left after the move to containerization and it has been the focus of an active preservation effort. “In the end, what we decide to preserve, repurpose or forget is a testament to what we value as a society.” ~ Tom Griscom
  20. 20. Tom Griscom, Copra Crane, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 60”
  21. 21. Tom Griscom, Cesar Chavez, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 77”
  22. 22. Wendy Crittenden, crane, 2008. Two 30” x 30” C-prints mounted on aluminum.
  23. 23. North Beach Harkening back to the history of the Barbary Coast, North Beach was the site of the Lusty Lady, the first strip club in the US to lead successful organizing campaign to become part of the SEIU. Using humorous phrases like “bad girls like good contracts,” the dancers won agreements on fair pay and worker safety. It existed as a worker –run collective for several years, but was squeezed out of business in 2013.
  24. 24. Tom Griscom, Lusty Lady, 2008. Inkjet Print, 17” x 42.5”
  25. 25. Wendy Crittenden, lusty lady, 2008. 20” x 20” C-print mounted on aluminum.
  26. 26. Tom Griscom Tom Griscom (MFA SFSU 2009) is a photographer and educator based in Nashville, TN. His photographic work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, as well as publications dedicated to fine art photography. His editorial work has appeared in such publications as Outside Magazine, Scientific American, Blackbook, and Nashville Arts and is commercially represented by Gallerystock. He has taught classes at the International Center of Photography, The Maine Media Workshops, The School of Visual Arts, and is currently a full time faculty member at the Nashville Art Institute and a visiting artist at Watkins College of Art and Design. Wendy Crittenden Wendy Anne Crittenden (MFA SFSU 2009) is an artist based in San Francisco. Her work has been exhibited around the Bay Area as well as in Southern California. Of late, she has been focused on detailed and humorous drawings partially based on famous phrases and folk tales, both for exhibitions and for children’s book illustrations. Her drawings, prints and photography have been shown in San Francisco Bay Area venues such as Color II; SFSU Fine Arts Gallery; Intersection for the Arts; Branson Fine Arts and Santa Rosa Junior College. She (along with Munson & Griscom) participated in the collaboration Syndicate for Yerba Buena Center for the Art’s Bay Area Now 5 triennial event, which involved a walking tour and gallery installation with video and photographs of the historic union involvement in the visual and performing art spaces of San Francisco.All photos © Tom Griscom, Wendy Crittenden 2008.
  27. 27. Kim Munson Kim Munson (MA, SFSU 2009) is an independent art historian, writer and curator living in the San Francisco bay area. Her articles on contemporary works on paper, the movement of comic art into museums, art and the law, and graphics used by the labor movement have appeared in the International Journal of Comic Art, the Comics Journal on-line, Icons of the American Comic Book from Captain America to Wonder Woman, The American Comic Book, Comics Through Time and other publications. Her paper, 100 Years Hand-in-Hand: a Brief History of the AFL-CIO Logo was commended by the AFL-CIO Union Label Dept at their 100th anniversary convention. Kim has also been Creative Director for tech companies, production coordinator for a large manufacturer, and a scenic artist for film, TV & theatre. Labor Archives Few regions can rival the rich, lively labor history of the San Francisco Bay Area. This history is preserved in primary source and vintage history materials at the Labor Archives and Research Center (LARC). Founded in 1985 by trade union leaders, historians, labor activists and university administrators, the Labor Archives is a unit of the J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University. The Labor Archives has an Advisory Board drawn from the labor, academic and community leaders of the Bay Area. LARC and its Director, Catherine Powell, were recently recognized with a special award from the Reference and Service Users Division of the American Library Association. LARC’s publication San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guide Book was one of the guiding inspirations of this project.