More Dreamers of the Golden Dream

Why do story and photograph work so well together? How is it that a wonderful story told to me on a front porch can be enhanced so much by black and white photography in a way that the human brain responds viscerally and takes in the entire world?—Susan Straight

First shown at the Riverside Art Museum in 2013, More Dreamers of the Golden Dream was a love letter to generations of Riverside’s Eastside community, to African-American and Mexican-American families who arrived here back in the 1800s to make home and family in the promised land, to people who fled violence and segregation to come West, to the military families who saw California as the dream home, to their descendants who keep traditions and loyalty alive in driveways, boxing rings, restaurants, churches, and on the sidewalks filled with stories and kinship and laughter.

More Dreamers brought an entire community together to share stories from four generations of Californians, and in 2021, with new essays by the next generation in Delphine Sims (daughter of author Susan Straight), plus new images by photographer Douglas McCulloh, the exhibition and the accompanying book show the universal love in the iconic places of Riverside’s Eastside, and in the world.

About Susan Straight: Susan Straight was born in Riverside, California, where she still lives with her family. Her memoir, In the Country of Women (Catapult Books, 2020) was a national bestseller. It was a Best Book of the Year by NPR and CodeSwitch, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and a Finalist for the Clara Johnson Prize for Women’s Literature. Her new novel, Mecca, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in March 2022. She has published eight novels. Highwire Moon and I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots were national bestsellers, and her trilogy of one family’s journey from slavery to California includes A Million Nightingales, Take One Candle, and Between Heaven and Here. She has been a Finalist for the National Book Award and the National Magazine Award; she received the Edgar Prize for Best Mystery Story, the O Henry Prize, the Lannan Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, The Believer, O Magazine, Real Simple, Alta, Reader’s Digest, Family Circle, and other journals. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UC Riverside.

About Douglas McCulloh: Douglas McCulloh is an artist, writer, and senior curator at the California Museum of Photography. His work has been shown nationally and internationally in more than 250 exhibitions including Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City; Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; and Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. McCulloh’s most recent books are In the Sunshine of Neglect (Inlandia Institute), and The Great Picture: Making the World’s Largest Photograph (Hudson Hills Press, New York). Exhibitions curated by McCulloh have shown in a range of venues including Kennedy Center for the Arts, Washington D.C.; Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg; Flacon Art Center, Moscow; Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colorado; Manuel Álvarez Bravo Center, Oaxaca; Sejong Center, Seoul, South Korea; and, of course, UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography. He is an honors graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and holds an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University.

About Delphine Sims: Delphine Sims studies the history of photography in the Americas as a PhD student at UC Berkeley. She earned a B.A. in Art History and African American Studies from the University of Southern California in 2013. Her research focuses on the ways in which race, gender, geography, and urbanity inform landscape photography. She previously worked at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art as the Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Photography. There, she organized exhibitions and contributed writings on subjects such as the history of salted paper prints, California landscape photography, mid-20th-century Mexican photography, and contemporary American photography.  

Image: Douglas McCulloh, Late Afternoon Laughter in the Driveway: Montrell Hamilton, Derrick Sims, Keith Harris, Trent Chatham, General Sims III, Susan Straight, Howard Fields, 2021

Exhibit-Related Events

Opening Reception

Please join us for the opening reception of More Dreamers of the Golden Dream on Thursday, October 7, 2021, 6 p.m.–9 p.m., during Artswalk. Come meet the artists and celebrate the families, histories, and love of and for the Eastside.

Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 is required. “Fully vaccinated” means the event is at least 14 days after a participant’s final vaccine dose. To enter the event, participants must bring  proof of vaccination, either a physical vaccination card, a picture of a vaccination card, or a digital vaccination record. Most California residents may request a digital vaccination record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov. Anyone 12 and over without proof of being fully vaccinated must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours (3 days) prior to entering the event. Masks are also required at all times indoors, except when eating, drinking, or actively speaking to a group as part of a presentation for all patrons and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, at the Riverside Art Museum.

This exhibition is sponsored by:

Betty & Walter Parks

MUSEUM MATTERS