On October 5, the Roberts and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA) reopened their doors for their “Fall Reopening Reception” to unveil three new exhibitions to students and the general public.
The museum had been closed for the months of August and September while the three new exhibitions were prepared: “Return to Form: Dennis Hopper Photographs Japan”, “Andy Warhol: Polaroids”, and “Ed Gomez: HORSEMEN.”
The exhibitions brought art and history together, teaching visitors about artists like Dennis Hopper whose work and history are unknown to many of the students here on the CSUSB campus, according to Eva Kirsch, director of the museum.
“Photography was his interest, photography was his passion and we realize to our greatest, greatest sadness that the students don’t even know who he is,” said Kirsch.
Kirsch also expounded on the relationship between art and history, especially in the context of photographers like Hopper and Warhol, and how they want to bring this information to students.
The event started at 5:30 p.m. in the Dennis Hopper section of the museum with an introduction by Kirsch, as well as the two guest curators, Claudia Bohm-Spector and Sam Mellon, before the crowd was invited to explore the exhibitions for themselves.
The museum was split into five sections: three for the new exhibitions, one for the returning “Journey to the Beyond: Ancient Egyptians in the Pursuit of Eternity” exhibition, and an area for the complimentary food and drink.
Polaroids, black and white photographs, ancient Egyptian art, and Gomez’s portraits lined the walls of the museum. In the middle of one room stood a pure white sculpture of a horse draped in a cloth, a piece that attracted many viewers.
Bohm-Spector explained that the Hopper exhibition was set up to start viewers with Hopper’s more commercialist photos, before moving on to his more experimental photos of Japan.
“He was looking for the things we don’t see otherwise, even if they are right in front of our eyes,” said Bohm-Spector.
To illustrate her point, Bohm-Spector showed the crowd a previously unreleased photograph of Hopper’s interpreter during his trip to Japan, explaining how even though it is just the interpreter staring into the distance, it is the kind of moment many people would not think to capture, especially as well as Hopper did it.
“His daughter told us that he wanted to be remembered first and foremost as a photographer,” said Bohm-Spector.
With that in mind, Kirsch’s desire to inform the students about these artists has even more meaning.
While the attendance at first was moderate, after the museum was officially open, a crowd of well over 100 people were there to enjoy the night. The crowd mingled, partook in the food and wine, and appreciated the many pieces that lined the walls in an event that was both social and educational.
Jennifer Castillo, a Liberal Studies student that was attending with her class, took interest in the quality of Hopper’s photos and spent time examining them.
“I wish I had visited sooner,” said Castillo.
She, like many students, has been busy with work and classes but was happy to finally have the opportunity to check out the museum on her campus.
While the reception might be over, the museum is open and the exhibitions are there for students to enjoy and learn from.