Beyond the Grave 2023

Tue, Dec 26, 2023

Robb Woulfe

Robb Woulfe - Executive Director

On Remembrance, Identity & Place

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

“Auld Lang Syne”, the Scottish poem by Robert Burns, is an exploration of how we remember our past. The title’s literal translation is “old long since," but the meaning is more like "old times". While the words are meant to be inspirational, they also serve to remind us that collective memories can shape a community's identity and actions. They can also provide expectations for its future, as stories shift across time.

As we transition into a new year, the MAH remains steadfast in its commitment to enhancing cultural vibrancy by creating opportunities for people to gather and grow together. Reflecting on the successes, challenges, and lessons learned this past year, we will continue to excavate our history in new and revealing ways and spread our work wide across the county to nurture our community’s sense of place.

We hope you have enjoyed our recent programming, including interpretive performances at Evergreen Cemetery, insightful installations at Davenport Jail, and the return of our innovative Frequency festival. We also invite you to experience our latest exhibitions—from the fantastic realms of Elantica, Stream and Werewolf Hunters, Jungle Queens, and Space Commandos: The Lost Worlds of Women Comic Artists, to the updated Indigenous Peoples section of our History Gallery and new onsite Native learning gardens.

Made possible by support from friends like you, these offerings illuminate our past and breathe new life into our cultural scene and public spaces. They create opportunities for participation and collaboration among diverse members of our community, fostering belonging, connectedness, and a shared sense of place—all fundamental components of livable, thriving cities.

The MAH has been busy this past year. We strengthened our business model and streamlined operations, aligning ambitions with resources to deliver thoughtful, relevant programming. We completed the second year of our strategic plan, debuted new works, hosted residencies, began digitizing our collection, and improved our physical sites. These and other achievements bolster our ability to produce the imaginative activities that make our museum such a treasured community resource.

Local investment and engagement continue to be crucial to our success. We have planned an exciting slate of exhibitions and collaborations for 2024 and beyond, including solo and group shows, collaborative partnerships, interdisciplinary projects, and the return of our countywide biennial festival. The schedule showcases ambitious new commissions, site-specific installations, and premieres by local and visiting artists and curators, which we hope you enjoy and find thought provoking.

Richard Mayhew Landscape for Bob

Richard Mayhew, Landscape for Bob. Serigraph of watercolor. Courtesy of Richard and Rosemary Mayhew.

Upcoming Exhibitions:

  • Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship, an exhibition by the 2022-23 Rydell Visual Arts Fund recipients Kajahl Benes-Trapp, Kristiana 莊礼恩 Chan, Anna Friz, and Janette Gross.
  • Richard Mayhew: Inner Terrain, a rare and timely exhibition of the artwork of Richard Mayhew, featuring paintings that speak to American arts, culture, and history. Guest curated by Shelby Graham and Kajahl.
  • Sowing Seeds: Filipino American Stories from the Pajaro Valley, a community-driven exhibition that preserves and uplifts stories of Filipino migration and labor in Watsonville and the greater Pajaro Valley. Guest curated by Christina Ayson Plank.
Sowing Seeds 13

Binh Danh, Manuel Bersamin, 2023, Daguerrotype Photograph, 12 3/4" x 10.5", Collection of Binh Danh.

  • Of Love and Revelation: Learning Photography from the Land, a group exhibition of contemporary photographic experiments. Guest curated by Gabriel Salomon Mindel.
  • Young, Gifted and Black, an exhibition of works by artists of African descent drawn exclusively from the collection of Bernard I. Lumpkin and Carmine D. Boccuzzi.
  • CommonGround, a biennial festival of place-inspired, outdoor work hosted in locations throughout Santa Cruz County. The full lineup to be announced in July 2024.
  • Re:Collect, an immersive Afrospeculative experience that focuses on the exploration and preservation of indigenous cosmic roots. Guest curated by Luna HighJohn-Bey.
Last Chinatown 11

A preview of The Last Chinatown, an interactive public memorial and augmented reality film by Huy Truong, Susana Ruiz, and Karen Tei Yamashita, photo by Daris Jasper.

Upcoming Programs & Events:

In 2024 we will complete or continue a number of our multiyear, research-related projects, including Kincentricity, Queerstory, London Nelson Legacy Initiative, and the premiere of a new interactive media work entitled The Last Chinatown. We bring back In Pour Taste—our history-infused cocktail series, as well as after-hours programming with Late Night @ the MAH, literary readings, film screenings, and artist and historian talks at the museum.

We also plan to present beloved favorites like Día de los Muertos along with our full slate of programming—from K-12 field trips and bilingual family offerings to our Blue Plaque Landmark Awards. Finally, we look forward to partnering with our friends from the History Forum to implement some updates to our History Gallery.

Robb Woulfe 10

“These offerings foster belonging, connectedness, and a shared sense of place—all fundamental components of livable, thriving cities.”

Robb Woulfe, Executive Director

Time and place are relative, ever-changing concepts—and staying abreast of them through self-investigation, reinterpretation, and celebration is central to a community’s evolving identity. As the MAH moves forward, our efforts to share stories of our past, present, and future will continue to nurture the vibrant spirit that defines Santa Cruz County.

To learn more about our plans and how to get involved, please read our latest institutional case for support.

As we close out 2023, we thank our community for its time, support, and engagement. We are deeply grateful for the memories and all the cups of kindness. For those interested in making a year-end gift to the MAH, please click here.

—Robb Woulfe, Executive Director

Header image: 'Beyond the Grave' performance by Isola Tong under the Chinese Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery, 2023, photo by Crystal Birns.

Support the MAH

Help fuel a strong and resilient MAH by becoming a member or making a donation. Your contribution directly supports the future of the museum and connecting our community through art, history, and culture.