Opening: Travel Back to 1968 at the Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California’s new must-see exhibition transports people back to one of the most turbulent year’s in U.S. history: 1968.

Using multimedia, art, audio stories, short films, games and hang-out lounges, this participatory exhibit touches on all major changes and events in the country that year—from the height of the Vietnam War to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to the rise of plastics and Janis Joplin.

“Why 1968?” Oakland Museum’s executive director Lori Fogarty asked during a preview of the exhibit. “It has particular relevance to this museum. We opened in 1969 as the Black Panthers were being tried across the street and the Bay Area was in tumult.”

California played an important roll in 1968’s transformation and turmoil. Not only was it home base for the Black Panthers, Cesar Chavez and where the Whole Earth Catalog got its start, but the Bay Area was also the hotbed for political and social justice poster creation. One special exhibit of the museum’s 1968 show is the All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area.

“A poster is designed to grab you by the throat and say listen to this,” guest curator of the exhibit Lincoln Cushing said at the preview. “This is about the roll of posters as the people’s voice.”

The poster exhibit has 68-framed posters that were carefully selected from a collection of 24,000. Their scope covers everything from vegetarianism to leather clubs to ending war. “No place has ever produced more independent social posters than the Bay Area,” Cushing said. “We are the bleeding edge for social justice movements.”

One poster geared toward Vietnam draft resistance shows folk singer Joan Baez and her sisters with the text “Girls Say Yes to boys who say No,” while another poster is a giant lithograph of a tightly-rolled joint. A diverse array of artwork is displayed in the posters, from fine pen work to photographs to monochrome prints.

“I wanted to get a representation of different time periods, artists and subjects,” Cushing said. “You really get a flavor of the collection. I wanted everyone to come in and find something that resonated with them personally.”

Both The 1968 Exhibit and All of Us or None opened March 31 and will be showing through August 19, 2012. Along with the exhibition are various special events, such as live screen-printing classes, talks and film nights. For more information visit the museum’s website.

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