In the historic and charming Garnier building of Olvera Street in Los Angeles, you can find the spirit of Chinese America. The Chinese American Museum (CAM) is currently showcasing Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection. A pioneering exhibition of cinema memorabilia collected during the 10-year research for Arthur Dong’s documentary, the exhibit is simply riveting and refreshing. From the filmmaker’s archive of more than 1,000 items, film posters, movie stills, scripts, press material and other artifacts dating from 1916 to present day, the exhibit showcases the historical depictions of the Chinese in 20th century Hollywood.
The building in itself is an artifact. Sold to Chinese American merchants in the 1890s, the building was kept in the community for decades. Surviving archives of pioneer Chinese American filmmakers, rare production photos from The Curse of Quon Gwon (1916), as well as the first Oscar won by Chinese American, James Wong Howe (The Rose Tattoo) are on display. Films such as The Good Earth, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu, and (my favorite) Flower Drum Song ultimately bring the project to life. Moreover, the exhibit tells the story of how cinema exploited the Chinatown mystique.
If you find yourself twiddling your thumbs wondering what to do this weekend, hop on over to CAM. Tickets are inexpensive and you can visit the marketplace on Olvera Street after you’re done! This humble museum will surely make you appreciate the labors of love of our past and the progress of Asian Americans. And if you happen to get lost, just follow the hanging red lanterns!
Find out more at www.camla.org.
See you there!
DETAILS Chinese American Museum, 425 N. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, (213) 485-8567