By Rachel Molina |Staff Writer|
Juan Delgado and Thomas McGovern depicted the hidden beauty of San Bernardino’s cultural landscape in an elegant way in their book, “Vital Signs.”
The book was a seven year project that pays homage to the region and its working-class Latino community.
“Vital Signs” is an exhibit based on the book that is now showing in the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA) on campus.
Delgado and McGovern are also both CSUSB professors who both teach their respective crafts of art and writing to their students.
McGovern is a photographer and was able to depict the beauty of overlooked, hand-painted signs and murals within the city.
His photographs are brought to life by Delgado’s descriptive storytelling about life in the city.
Guests who attended the museum on April 24 were able to experience a lecture by McGovern and Delgado followed by a book signing.
The lecture took place in a very intimate setting, where guests sat down and viewed slides of photographs and listened to poetry readings.
The lighting was very minimal, which created a feeling of warmth, and added to Delgado’s soft-spoken storytelling.
McGovern began the lecture by expressing his feelings about the collaboration with Delgado.
“This book is somewhat of a love letter to San Bernardino,” said McGovern. “This is beautiful, this is something to look at and appreciate,” he added.
McGovern started off the slideshow with a photo that was entitled “El Tigre Market.”
The focus of the photo was a Tiger wearing a sombrero and pushes a shopping cart through a vacant supermarket.
“His painted stripes are starting to flake like the bounty he wheels for the families drifting into the parking lot off Third Street and next to the train station still waiting to the retrofitted for the big one,” read Delgado.
McGovern then explained that after he returned to this place a few years later, the building had been completely demolished.
“If I don’t make these pictures, then no one will remember that it was there,” said McGovern.
All of McGovern’s photos were vibrant in color and had elements of cracked sidewalks, fences, stains, telephone poles, weeds, and old gum spots.
These elements showed the history, and the marks left behind by the community.
At the end of the lecture, Delgado and McGovern graciously signed books for their guests.
Student April Baca, who attended the lecture, has written an article about “Vital Signs” for KCET’s “Southern California Cultural Journalism.”
“The most interesting thing about their collaboration is that they complement each other, while simultaneously existing as grittiness and separate entities.”
Together, Delgado and McGovern were able to show the unlikely beauty of San Bernardino.
They also incorporated the reality of a worn down community.
“I hope that ‘Vital Signs’ reminds people that gazing at art is not an escape from the world, but a way to situate ourselves in our ever-present past,” Delgado said.
General admission to this exhibit is free and will be displayed until July 31.