The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

Artifact of the Month: Bringing the Town Together, Catalyst Poster from 1966

Posted by on June 10, 2015

In MAH collection-land, the 1960s are big—huge, in fact. Recently I’ve accepted a few wonderful donations from this decade. It was a pivotal time in Santa Cruz County’s history. And locals are ready to open their closets, storage sheds, and trunks to share part of this history with us.

Santa Cruz became a cauldron of cultural experimentation, neighborhood activism, intellectual exploration and environmental protection in the 1960s and 1970s. This progressive shift was one part university students, one part community activists, one part hippies with alternative lifestyles.

Located in the old St. George Hotel, the original Catalyst Coffee House and Delicatessen was the downtown gathering place for artists, politicians, students, and professors. The hotspot opened in 1966. Patti DiLudovico, a folk singer, chose the name “the Catalyst” to foster a welcoming atmosphere where ideas flowed with the beer and wine. Patti and her husband, Al, ran the Catalyst. “[UCSC administrator] Byron Stockey came to us one day, saying ‘We need a place where we can bring the University and the town together, ‘” Patti said.

Catalyst Poster, 1966. Artist: Doni Tunheim

Catalyst Poster, 1966. Artist: Doni Tunheim

A few months ago, I met Holly Harman, author of Inside a Hippie Commune. Packed with photos and stories, this book describes the counterculture in Santa Cruz County. Holly told me that Patti reminisces about the Catalyst days. She wanted the MAH to have 3 original posters advertising the opening of the deli. These posters are amazing works of art, in a flowing art nouveau style. Local artist Doni Tunheim painted these beauties in 1966. My favorite is the one featuring a seated woman. Her red hair winds around the deli’s moniker and “coffee,” “pastries,” “art shows.” That sounds pretty great to me.

While thumbing through Inside a Hippie Commune, I noticed Stanley Stevens’ name. Stan is Librarian Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz and amazing local historian. He comes in every week to the MAH archives and works on indexing some of our collections. Stan was part of the co-op Catalyst. In fact, he was the treasurer. And you think you know a guy…

Stan says that he was also in charge of filling up the huge pickle container for the Catalyst. He got the pickles from somewhere in San Francisco. He used to drive there once a month to attend ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) meetings. I showed Stan another recent donation to the MAH. It’s an original menu from the Catalyst. Stan said, “Oh yes, Carly [his wife] made the chocolate crazy cake. She’d bake some in the morning, and by the afternoon, the Catalyst had sold out of it. Now I have to get that recipe.

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Artifact of the Month: Of Cheese and Dairymen: Scaroni Ranch Photograph

Posted by on February 4, 2015

My family has a soft spot for dairies. My husband was born and raised on a dairy ranch in the San Joaquin Valley. He loves telling boyhood stories about growing up among the bovine, milk, and the regular occurrence of calf birthing. We almost got married at the old barn.


A Barn at Scaroni Ranch

A Barn at Scaroni Ranch

Here’s a photo of another old barn closer to us. This barn was part of the Scaroni Ranch, a huge dairy operation situated along the North Coast of Santa Cruz. Pio Scaroni came to Santa Cruz from Gordola, Switzerland in 1868. He was a successful dairyman. The ranch prospered for many years. It’s now part of Wilder Ranch State Historic Park.


The North Coast of Santa Cruz County has a rich dairy history. “There was a time when the lowing of thousands of cows mingled with the lofty screams of the seagulls, starting in the early 1800s,” wrote Santa Cruz columnist Wally Trabing in 1966. Dairies dotted the coast—from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay.


When you think dairy ranch, you think milk. But this is a cheese story. The Scaroni Ranch took their turn at cheese in the early 20th Century, making the Fancy Flat cheese. These delectable cheddar rounds weighed 24 pounds. Cured for up to three weeks in warm cheese houses, the rounds shipped to Santa Cruz or San Francisco. At the height of production, the Scaroni Ranch produced 300 pounds of cheese a day.


Many dairies along the coast took up the cheese making business. But by 1933, it was all over. Changing laws forced the ranchers to quit the cheese and take up solely milk production. But that dried up too, due to the take-over of larger California dairies. For more information about our dairy history, check out We might not be able to snack on slices of Fancy Flat, but we can do our part to protect the land of milk and cheese.


Don’t Forget to submit to History Journal #8

Posted by on January 8, 2015

History Journal No. 8 – Article Solicitation The Forgotten People of Santa Cruz County
The History Publications Committee of the Museum of Art & History is pleased to announce that History Journal No. 8 will be devoted to the history of the people of Santa Cruz County. But not just any people, not the famous, or wealthy but forgotten or under-represented people.

The journal will be dedicated to local historian Phil Reader (1940 – 2014). Phil was a champion of the under-represented and disenfranchised. He researched, documented, and shared their history.

In the words of the historian and UCSC librarian emeritus, Stanley D. Stevens:

Phil was one of the most generous historians, focusing on Santa Cruz County and the underrepresented people that other historians chose not to write about, or deferred to Phil, knowing that he was developing “the” definitive history on that subject. His writing and research included African Americans, Outlaws, and Prostitutes. His “To Know My Name — A Chronological History of African Americans in Santa Cruz County” is a classic that reflects Phil’s attention to detail and accuracy. . . His wit and gracious presence will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him, or those who he has touched by his spirit. Many of his essays (327 items) may be read on the Research Forum website, hosted by the Museum of Art & History.

In the spirit of Phil Reader this journal will capture the previously untold stories of the people who have not yet been written into Santa Cruz County history.

Below is a partial and preliminary list of those whose stories might be included in the journal. Some of these may take the form of major articles, while others may be short sidebars or presented in an appendix.

Unsung Heroes
Minority Communities
Quiet Philanthropists
The Defenseless
Servants of the Community
Those who Served
The Enslaved
The Frail and Vulnerable
Those Taken Advantage of
People who made a Difference
Unrecognized Craftspeople
Planning for History Journal No. 8 has already begun, and the Committee is soliciting proposals for contributions. Authors of articles will be asked to submit their finished contributions in September 2015, with publication expected the following year.

Guidelines for authors are available on the MAH website under Learn— History Publications— Guidelines for authors.

Please submit your suggestion in the form of an article abstract, by March 1, 2015, to the Chair of the Publications Committee, Lisa Robinson at, (831) 338-4152, or to Marla, Santa Cruz MAH, 705 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062.

The History Publications Committee

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Dance like you never have before– inside a kaleidoscope.

Posted by on October 13, 2014

As part of our ongoing Participatory Performing Artist-in-Residence Program (PPAIR), choreographer Karl Schaffer (click here for more info) will co-create a kaleidoscopic video involving dance from visitors and dancers at GLOW on Digital Art Night, October 17th

For our participation in MAH’s GLOW: A Festival of Light we’ve been working on expanding our work with “video tessellations,” mosaic designs created from live video of dancers and audience members. Using three cameras set up around the MAH Atrium, we’ll feed the video images to software by mathematical software designer Kevin Lee, which then forms them into colorful kaleidoscopic video projections on three screens. Visitors will be invited to play with their own kaleidoscopic designs and create dance movements of their own as part of the event.


Karl testing out his video tessellations with Arts Council Santa Cruz in the MAH Auditorium

The video tessellation dances have been popular in performances over the past several years. This time around, we wanted to find ways for audiences to play with the software and projections while also allow our dancers to use them in new ways. To that end, we have been working to create three new short dances using a camera hung about ten feet above the floor and pointed downwards. The dances, currently titled “Wiggle Room,” “Java Jive,” and “Tripeds” are set to varied recorded scores and incorporate humorous effects. We will perform them every thirty minutes during the three-hour event, interspersed by audience interaction with the digital effects. Dancers are Jane Real, Lila Salhov, Saki, and Laurel Shastri. We’ve been creating them in my home studio, but finally had a chance to try them out in the Atrium space last weekend, with a camera hung from the wires crossing the atrium space. This was a tremendously helpful rehearsal session, in which we tested camera and projector placement and lighting– all of which are crucial for the work.
The work has benefited tremendously from a number of meetings with MAH’s Director of Community Engagement, Stacey Garcia, who has helped plan our participation in the event and provided us with extensive museum resources. We have been able to test the software at several events recently. Vi Hart, a “mathemusician” whose math videos have recently become an internet sensation has been holding monthly math-themed parties in San Francisco with colleague Andrea Hawksley, who’s also involved in artistic mathematical work. In July they held a “Kaleidoscope Party,” and we set up the video tessellations at the party. We observed that those more willing to stand and move in front of the camera were mostly women, while men seemed more interested in interacting with the software. This led us to contact Kevin Lee, who kindly revised the software to make it easier for audiences to modify it on the fly, and to allow us to save settings from one session to another. Laurel Shastri, who will perform with us at GLOW, also pointed out that we should not discount as audience interaction those who simply watched in fascination!


Karl testing out his video tessellations with Arts Council Santa Cruz in the MAH Auditorium

Karl testing out his video tessellations with Arts Council Santa Cruz in the MAH Auditorium

A second event allowed us to introduce the software effects at the monthly teaching artist gathering organized by Sarah Brothers with the Arts Council Santa Cruz, held in the MAH auditorium. At this event we did a longer (45 minute) introduction to symmetry, involving much movement and movement composition in groups, useful for the classroom, then worked for about 25-30 minutes with the video tessellations. The symmetry intro gave these artists a quick background in the mathematical concepts used in tessellations. We used recordings of Zambra’s songs for the video tessellations. Those attending were a little reluctant to then get up again and move into the cameras, but did eventually and played for awhile. We did not have the 1-page handout for manipulating the software, so they did not try that. They seemed more comfortable moving the colorful scarves and clothing items we brought, and did stare at the screen. The screen hung at right angles to the camera line (so a monitor placed beside the camera would be helpful at GLOW). We observed that colorful clothing does show up better. At the end of the event, after I turned off the music and others were standing around talking and getting ready to leave, one participant who had not wanted to move during the earlier session did get up and played in front of the camera. This suggest that less “center stage” placement of camera(s) might be encouraging to museum attendees. Also, not many people played with the one laptop using its own camera and screen; so placement of laptops, and perhaps use of larger monitors with them, maybe even obvious cameras, might be more important than we had realized. Fortunately we have now been able to borrow a total of five laptops to run the software, and will use the extras with their own built in cameras for audience interactions.
Another shorter visit with Scott Kim and his family gave us some ideas about how children interact with the software, as we observed his young daughter, around age seven, stand in front of the camera and play with the tessellation designs non-stop for about a half hour.
We’re looking forward to performing for and with audiences during GLOW, though we still have a lot of preparation work – and one more rehearsal – coming up!

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Contribute your art to Everybody’s Ocean

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Everybody’s Ocean

Your art. Everybody’s ocean. This is your chance to submit salty, seaworthy, sultry, swirling visual art art about the sea.

When: December 19th, 2014 – April 19, 2015, opening reception Friday, March 20th at our monthly festival 3rd Friday: Blue.

What: Everybody’s Ocean is part crowd-sourced, part curated. It’s a visual art exhibition presenting your stories about the sea. Share your art about the ocean, and join the story at the MAH.

What to Submit: Your painting of West Cliff at sunset. Your two-year old’s drawing of the beach that’s been on the fridge for five months. That awesome GoPro footage you took while surfing. Submit all of it. This show will feature visual art of all kinds. There are only two catches: You must live in Central or Northern California, and your submissions must depict or represent a personal relationship to the ocean.

We are accepting your work in two waves (get it?): December 2014 and February 2015 (details below.) All works must be ready-to-hang (e.g. hanging hardware attached). You’ll also be asked to sit for a short audio or video interview.

Why: Everybody interprets the ocean in different ways. Your work has unique inspiration. Let’s share it with each other.

The ocean represents anything from womb to tomb. We personify it as a wrathful god, a seductive spirit, or an indomitable force. The four oceans of the world cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and link us to primordial pasts. The ocean is a living, shared space and one of the greatest unexplored mysteries of the world.

Jump through some sections here:
How Artwork Will Be Selected
How to Submit
Exhibition Dates
Artwork Delivery Dates
Artwork Pick-up
Frequently Asked Questions


Janice Shane Mann, California Seas, 2013.

Janice Shane Mann, California Seas, 2013.

How Artwork Will Be Selected

This is a non-juried exhibition with no cost to enter. We support all forms of visual art, media and artists at all stages of their careers. The MAH reserves the right to reject work that poses a risks to people or facilities, or that is in conflict with the museum’s mission and commitment to welcoming people of all ages. The museum’s curatorial team will review all submissions for appropriateness and applicability to the theme.

A selection of anchor artworks will be on display for the duration of the exhibition, including Baby, a handmade, collapsible Pacific outrigger canoe by Michael Arcega, Quantum Tunneling, a video projection and soundscore by Kadet Kuhne, Tides, a mirrored video installation by Ana Teresa Fernandez, Needle to Sea Bottom, a 6’ handmade etching by Jesse Gotesman, a (TBD) project by Constance Hockaday, an 70’ long interactive rope measurement system designed, built and hand colored by Carrie Hott, and The Bone Series, an eight foot-long ceramic installation reminiscent of a whale’s vertebrae by Jenni Ward.


How to Submit

Email Justin Hoover, MAH’s Curator of Exhibitions at to share your interest in participating. He’ll answer any questions you may have and coordinate delivery of work on the days below. Upon delivery, sit for a short video or audio interview.

Important things to know:

  • Make sure your work is ready to hang (e.g. hanging hardware attached)
  • Make sure artist contact information is attached (e.g. secure label on back with name, phone and email)
  • All submissions must fit through the museum doors. No cranes, lifts, jacks etc. available
  • One submission of an artwork or installation by each artist
  • Video submissions will loop on a group screen with headphones
  • Digital sound files will loop in a group on a dedicated set of headphones
  • The MAH curatorial team will gladly review proposals for social practice, performance or public intervention work as well.
  • MAH will accept digital A/V files on a memory stick, portable hard drive or on data disc. For return of media device, provide a self addressed stamped envelope.
  • Artworks submitted during Wave II may take the place artworks submitted during Wave I by discretion of the curators.  At this point you may be requested to pick up your work.
  • Video specs: We accept any video files under 8 minutes long formatted as .MP4, .MOV, WMV or .AVI


Exhibition Dates

Wave I Exhibition period: December 19th – February 15th.

Wave II – February 27th – April 19th


Artwork Delivery Dates and Interviews

There will be two waves of submissions. Deliver your artwork to the MAH on the following public dates, or by appointment.  When you deliver your work you will also be required to sit for a short video or audio interview lead by our curators and our youth media interns.


  • Tuesday, December 9th from 12-7pm
  • Thursday, December 11th from 12-7pm
  • Saturday, December 13th from 12-5pm


  • Tuesday, February 17th from 12-5pm
  • Thursday, February 19th from 12-5pm
  • Saturday, February 21st from 12-5pm


Artwork Pick-Up

  • Wave I pick up period: You will be notified on February 23rd if your work needs to be picked up.  Pick up period is the same week from 10-5pm.
  • Wave II pick up deadline: Tuesday, April 22 – Sunday, April 26, 11-5pm


You are expected to pick up your artwork by the specified dates above. If not, you will be contacted. If you do not respond within a week of being contacted, then you are wilfully giving MAH the right to sacrifice these works to Poseidon and releasing the institution and all employees and volunteers from harm or liability.

Frequently asked questions

How much room do I get?

Each artist can submit one artwork or one installation. Play with whatever that means to you


Does my art need to be framed?

Only if you think it does. But, it must be ready to hang. Therefore, if you give us a drawing on paper and we can’t hang it because we don’t have the proper clips, then it’ll be rejected. Provide all hardware (or instructions) for hanging.


Are you accepting sculpture or video?

Yes, we accept all forms of media.


I am a performance artist, can I perform for the show?

Perhaps. Propose your performance and we will review it. Most likely, we’ll say yes or ask for slight changes to make it work with our space.


Who gets to apply?

Anyone! And you must live in Central or Northern California (sorry SoCal).


Why are you making me sit for an interview?

We want to know why you are making this work so that we can share this great info with our audience. Your point of view ignites our audience.  We love providing access to your point of view and what you have to say is valuable.


Are you commissioning new work?

Unfortunately not this time. But we will gladly promote, insure, interpret, steward, talk about, and help build an audience for you and your work.

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