Pitzer College to Host Exhibition and Film Screening on Chavez Ravine

Claremont, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2003) — The Center for California Cultural and Social Issues (CCCSI) and the Campus Life Committee at Pitzer College are proud to host Chavez Ravine, 1949: A Los Angeles Story, a solo exhibition, in-progress film screening and community panel based on the critically acclaimed 1999 book by photographer and author Don Normark.

Nichols Gallery, Pitzer College
Jan. 21-Feb. 15

Gallery Opening Reception and Film Screening
Nichols Gallery, Pitzer College
5-8 p.m., Jan. 29

Dinner Film Screening and Community Panel:
McConnell Living Room, Pitzer College
6 p.m., Feb. 5

As a young man, Don Normark spent over a year taking pictures of several Chavez Ravine neighborhoods before the entire community was razed to the ground to make way for a public housing development. After much political trouble, the public housing would remain an unpopular idea, and Chavez Ravine would become the home of the Dodgers. When residents were displaced during this upheaval, several refused to leave without literally being dragged from their homes. Many remain in close touch to this day and have formed a group called “Los Desterrados” which meets annually. In the early 1990s, Don Normark returned to Los Angeles with his early photographs of Chavez Ravine. He would spend years interviewing residents and combining their words with his pictures, and developing a unique approach to community-based photography.

Don Normark continues to be involved with former Chavez Ravine residents and is currently working on a documentary film project with filmmaker Jordan Mechner. The in-progress film will screen at the exhibition opening and dinner.

This film is an in-depth treatment of Chavez Ravine history, which features archival footage, interviews with former residents, Housing Authority officials, and an original soundtrack by Ry Cooder. Pitzer is fortunate to be able to offer two screenings of this in-progress documentary film based on Normark’s work on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, respectively. If you miss one, come see the other! If you know people who are former residents, we would love to have them be involved in these events.

In January and February, Pitzer will host several events to celebrate Normark’s work and the unique history of Chavez Ravine. A gallery opening and film screening will take place from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 29 in the Nichols Gallery on the Pitzer Campus. On Feb. 5, a dinner, film screening, and community panel will begin at 6 p.m. in the McConnell Living Room.

These events are offered in conjunction with Susan Phillips’ course in visual anthropology, which focuses on community-based approaches to visual ethnography. Phillips, who is director of CCCSI and on the board of Mascaras International, states that: “Normark provides a model that students can emulate — he is a collaborator whose work is testament to the strength of history and community not only in Chavez Ravine but in Los Angeles as a whole. This history is everywhere. We hope that people both in and out of Pitzer will come be a part of it.” Phillips is currently putting out the call to the Claremont community to solicit participation from people who are the children or grandchildren of Chavez Ravine residents.

These events are sponsored in part by Pitzer College’s Durfee Distinguished

Visitor Program. The Center for California Cultural and Social Issues (CCCSI) is a hub for social responsibility and engaged scholarship on the Pitzer campus.

All events will be held at Pitzer College, 1050 North Mills Avenue, Claremont, CA 91711. For further information or dinner reservations, please call (909) 607-8183 or 607-1268.

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