Golden Dreams: The Immigrant Vision of California

Golden Dreams: The Immigrant Vision of California

Alfredo Ramos Martinez, “Mother and Child,” 1945.

We called them 'chinks', 'Okies', 'wabs', 'Arkies', 'nips' and 'illegals' and 'anchor babies' and 'gooks' and 'slopeheads' and 'dune coons'—and still, California has been the golden state for immigrants for over 150 years. It's that promise and peril that informs the paintings in "Golden Dreams: The Immigrant Vision of California," the current exhibit at Chapman University's new-ish Hilbert Museum of California Art. The offerings date back to the 1940s, varying in style from the realistic (Alfredo Ramos Martinez's Madonna-and-child-esque "Mother and Child" from 1945) to abstract constructions. All possess the simultaneous sense of joy and pain felt by all immigrants at the reality of living in a state that wants your labor but not your culture—or are we just talking about the 'hajis'?
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