Commercial art romanticizes the California landscape, a lot

Commercial art romanticizes the California landscape, a lot

By Dolores Cullen | Storm Lake Times Pilot

Commercial Art Romanticizes The California Landscape, A Lot

Commercial Art Romanticizes The California Landscape, A LotNew to the Witter Gallery is an exhibition of Orange Crate Art. You’ve seen big beautiful labels on orange crates before.

These labels are produced for associations of fruit growers and packing houses throughout California, especially in the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Ventura County and Santa Barbara County.

The orange crate labels were never meant to be fine art. It is not printed to hang on walls. They are a straightforward form of commercial art. They are never signed by artists, but many of the labels have character and quality that transcends their function.

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Others present romantic images of a manufactured California, whose exotic landscape, history and lifestyle can and should not be suppressed.

Others record historical events, such as World War II, the development of airplanes and the opening of the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Some praise oranges as a spiritual symbol of the human desire to live a healthy, vigorous life.

Some are purely imaginary images, such as a unicorn leaping across a landscape

In the first half of the 20th century, orange crates and their art have become everyday life settings. People use crates as dining chairs, toy boxes, storage containers, coffee tables and bookshelves.

Orange crates are ridiculously considered college dormitory furniture.

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This show is on loan courtesy of the Frank Bette Center for the Arts in California, where the colorful art form originated. It can be viewed until Nov. 30.

If you haven’t seen the powerful Migrant Quilt Project exhibit at the Witter, it remains in place until Nov. 10.