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"A Restless Country: Selections From the Permanent Collection" at the Pomona College Museum of Art

“A Restless Country: Selections from the Permanent Collection” will be on view from October 31 through December 20, 2009, at the Pomona College Museum of Art. An opening reception will be held at the Museum on Saturday, November 7, from 5-7 p.m. On Tuesday, November 3, at 4:15 p.m., there will be a panel discussion featuring members of the Claremont Colleges American Studies faculty. All events are free and open to the public.

Drawing from the Museum’s rich collections in Native American and 20th-century American art, the exhibition explores the ways in which American identity is interwoven with ideas of movement. American movement, characterized by Walt Whitman as “Oh restless, restless race,” encompasses the movement of peoples and individuals in an expanding nation-state and the enduring myth of the open road and the road trip.

Restless movement can be seen in the complex trading patterns of America’s native populations; the importance of the horse, the railroad and the riverboat in American life; the identification of American life with car culture; and the seductive power of speed.

Late 19th-century photographs reveal the importance of the railroad in the American West. American regionalist artists, such as Grant Wood, Reginald Marsh and Thomas Hart Benton, explored the mythology of the American West—including the exploits of Huckleberry Finn and Jesse James—centered on the train and the river raft.

Photographs by Walker Evans, Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams unveil 20th-century America’s infatuation with the car and its promise of freedom and motion. Patrick Nagatani’s faux archaeological series, “The Ryiochi Excavations,” presents the field notes of an archeologist who discovered remnants of an automotive culture in digs throughout the Americas. The road and the culture of the outlaw are featured in Danny Lyon’s 1966 portfolio “The Bikeriders,” an in-depth record of a Chicago motorcycle gang. Raymond Pettibon’s collaborative book Faster, Jim celebrates the delirious pleasures of speed whether on a surfboard or a rocket ship.

The exhibition also features selections from Pomona College’s superb collection of Native American Art, including Hohokam trade goods; hide painting and beadwork from the Plains cultures; and California basketry and pottery. The range of trading networks is seen in the materials used by the ancient Hohokam—shell and stone traded from the Pacific and Gulf Coasts used in jewelry—and in motifs found in pottery from the arid Southwest which include depictions of parrots and parrot feathers which traveled up from Mexico. The introduction of the horse to the New World brought a freedom of movement celebrated in Plains beadwork and hide painting.

The Pomona College Museum of Art is located at 330 N. College Avenue, Claremont. The Museum is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call: (909) 621-8283 or visit www.pomona.edu/museum.

The Pomona College Museum of Art houses a substantial permanent collection as well as serves as a gallery for the display of temporary exhibitions. Important holdings include the Kress Collection of 15th- and 16th-century Italian panel paintings; more than 5,000 examples of Pre-Columbian to 20th-century American Indian art and artifacts; and a large collection of American and European prints, drawings and photographs, including works by Francisco de Goya, José Clemente Orozco and Rico Lebrun.