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Gold on the Bay

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April 18, 2009 through December 20, 2009

Painting of people arriving at a harbor.

The California Museum opens its newest exhibit, Gold on the Bay: The Remarkable Story of Gold Rush San Francisco to the public on Saturday, April 18th. The exhibit features collages depicting San Francisco as a sleepy Mexican outpost on through its formative years past the boom of the Gold Rush. Artifacts ranging in gold paraphernalia to pistols will accentuate the 28 surrealist collages, which play on form, cultural resonance and textured surfaces.

On the 160th anniversary of the California Gold Rush, the exhibition will be a great venue to learn about the energetic and yet dark underbelly of California’s ultimate boomtown. Students of California history will find the pictorial exhibit unique as it portrays the full spectrum of the diverse conditions and nature of the city’s society, as well as provide a distinct artistic perspective on its progression.

The collages Satty assembled are compilations of historic illustrations and are accompanied by descriptive eyewitness accounts dating from 1849 to 1890. The California State Parks contributed to the exhibit by lending the Museum items best portraying the various vices of the time, like Mexican playing cards, opium stands, gold scales and a gambler’s Colt pistol, among others.

Wilfried “Satty” Podriech (1939-1982) was a German immigrant who lived in San Francisco as part of the Hippie counterculture of the 1960s and 70s. As an artist and historian, he found little difference between the rough and tumble lifestyle of Gold Rush San Francisco and the transgressive chaotic city of his own time.