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Hobos to Street People Book Launch

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Hobos to Street People presents a social, cultural and political history of homelessness from the Great Depression to the present as seen through the work of artists from the 1930s to today. The book is based on the touring exhibition of the same name that began in San Francisco in 2008. The artists range from Dorothea Lange, Rockwell Kent, Fritz Eichenberg and Richard V. Correll to contemporary artists including Kiki Smith, Sandow Birk, Eric Drooker, Jos Sances, David Bacon and others.
Author Art Hazelwood weaves together the history of homelessness in American society through the lens of artwork that tells a story of struggle and hope, of solidarity and demonization over a seventy-five year period. Many of the images from the 1930s sought to express the nobility of those living in poverty rather than portray people as victims. And many of the artists were employed by the federal government under several programs of the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Artists represented the struggles of poor people and shared in them. A new activism spread amongst artists who worked on political themes from homelessness to anti-lynching and anti-fascist campaigns. This artist activism was largely suppressed by art world trends and anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s, but returned again in the 1970s.
New Deal programs followed by the GI Bill, the Civil Rights movement and Medicare reduced poverty for many groups but other forces were at work in society to create a new wave of homelessness and poverty. This new era of homelessness has been with us since the 1980s and takes on increased urgency with every turn of the economic cycle. With the rise of conservative economic theories of trickle down and boot strap individualism, emergency shelters began to spring up all across the country in the face of rising populations of homeless people, the first indicators for the gross inequity and wealth disparity in America. By contrasting the responses in the 1930s with today the emphasis on demonization and criminalization of poor people becomes all the clearer. In the last few decades artists have worked increasingly with activist groups to create imagery that speaks to contemporary homelessness.
Ben Bagdikian, Dean Emeritus at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley wrote of the book “In 1964, I wrote a book, In the Midst of Plenty: the Poor in America, describing what was shameful for the richest country in the world. Today, as depicted in Art Hazelwood’s Hobos to Street People, we still do little or nothing about the homeless poor and it is still shameful.”
A Book Release party will be held at Alliance Graphics 1101 8th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-1203 (510) 845-8835, Thursday September 15th, 2011, 5:00–8:00 p.m. A portion of sales at this event will be donated to homeless rights groups WRAP, the Street Spirit and the Coalition on Homelessness. The Great Tortilla Conspiracy will be present at the book release, printing edible and cogent quesadilla’s with a message. Freedom Voices will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the books to the Coalition on Homelessness. To buy the book and make a donation to the Coalition visit http://freedomvoices.org/new/hobos and enter COH in the coupon code/comments section of the online order form.
Hobos to Street People is also a touring exhibition that originated in San Francisco in 2008 and is currently on view through December 4, 2011 at the de Saisset Museum of Santa Clara University 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053 (408) 554-4528 http://www.scu.edu/desaisset/
Exhibition Reception: Thursday, September 22, 7-8:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Thursday, September 29, 7-8:30 p.m. with homeless rights activist Paul Boden, New Deal scholar Gray Brechin, and artist/curator Art Hazelwood.
Hobos to Street People: Artists’ Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present, by Art Hazelwood with an afterword by Paul Boden. Published by Freedom Voices in San Francisco, CA. 84 pages, 57 images, ISBN 9780915117208, $25.95. For more info about the book, surf to freedomvoices.org.

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Author: Street Sheet Editor

The STREET SHEET is the oldest continuously published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through over 200 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.

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