Photographer’s daughter shares history ‘through her father’s eyes’.
By Monica Sagullo
Daly City, Calif. – What began with a curious daughter rummaging through her father’s basement trunk, led to the discovery of some 3,000 negatives and photos revealing a true insider’s vision of the San Francisco community during the 1940’s and 50’s.
Now, 50 of these are being exhibited, a sample of the entire collection at the Daly City Hall Octagon Gallery until June 30, called “Through My Father’s Eyes”.
“This is my father’s vision, but even if he wasn’t my father, the work is so beautiful I would still do this,” Janet Alvarado, project director and daughter of photographer Ricardo O. Alvarado, told Philippine News.
With live jazz music playing in the background, images of farm laborers, markets, Pine Street, sock hops, mestizos and beauty pageants took guests to a different world as they circled the gallery during the opening on May 15.
In commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Alvarado Project also held a second photo exhibit by Ricardo O. Alvarado depicting the Filipino American Community in San Francisco post World War II.
“The exhibit is beautiful. It is about time that we project our image to the different groups so they will learn about us, our heritage, and our culture,” Alice Bulos, a former Clinton Appointee to the U.S. Aging Commission, told PNews. “It shares an experience that shows that we did not exist alone, said Dan Gonzales, from the Department of Asian Studies at San Francisco State. “It is meant to inspire political acts and it shows democracy as it is growing and how it has grown.”
Gonzales was most impressed that all the local politicians saw the value of the exhibition and that they saw the pictures exactly the way they were meant to be seen and appreciated.
“I think it’s great. Any time we get a chance to share our culture, we should go for it,” Mike Guingona, council member said.
The evening began with the Albuquerque – Bohol choir, who sang both the United States and Philippine anthems. Next, Mayor Adrienne Tissier of Daly City paid a welcome to the guests and shared a few personal insights about the events.
“This exhibit should surely be repeated,” Tissier said. Due to the efforts of the Daly City – Quezon City Sister City Committee, the Bohol choir was able to attend the event and present flowers to Mayor Tissier from the Mayor of Bohol, as a token of the cities’ collaborative efforts. Mayor Tissier in turn presented pins with the seal of Daly City to each of the choir representatives.
In speaking about the exhibit, Maria Alcalde, from the Daly City committee, who provided the refreshments for the opening, told PNews “It’s so culturally relative. It’s like a different world.”
People of all strokes of life attended the exhibit; students, instructors, politicians, neighbors, and those who grew up in the period hoping to see familiar faces in the pictures.
“It showed a brief part of how it was like for me growing up in the San Francisco Fillmore District. The pictures brought out a lot of history for me,” a man identified as Fred told PNews. When asked about the most fulfilling aspect of the evening, Alvarado said, “It is so interesting that people that weren’t Filipino said that this is a real tribute to your community. That was great.”
The Alvarado project plans to tour the exhibit in San Jose, California, in Honolulu and in the East Coast. Tour dates are yet to be announced.
“It’s important for me to bring this collection forward. It speaks for itself,” Alvarado said in explaining her motives for touring the exhibit.
“They are pictures of things people usually overlook. It means something to me.”
Funding for the exhibit came from the Alvarado Project and through grants from organizations such as the California Council for the Humanities and the Kearney Street Workshop, who funded the art equipment, the designer and the hardware.
– Arts & Culture – May, 1999