Exhibit Openings & Author Mary Roach in Conversation

For Immediate Release:
Media Contact: Katherine Jardine
(415) 557-4295; Katherine.Jardine@sfpl.org

Exhibit Openings & Author Mary Roach in Conversation

Annual Wit & Humor Exhibit: Bombs Away: Humor Goes to War
Works by Women Eco Artists: Reclaiming Earth

Bombs Away: Humor Goes to War, an exhibition that draws from materials in the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor, is a selection of the spirit, wit and humor of those at war, and the people they left behind on the home front.  The exhibit opens April 1, in the Skylight Gallery, Sixth Floor, Main Library.

How did average readers and soldiers in the trenches deal with the stress of war in the 20th century? One way to preserve one’s sanity was keeping a sense of humor. From every imaginable corner of a war-torn world, humor was used to oppose tyranny and satirize the enemy. War is hell, but troops found that humor stayed the beast, at least temporarily; they laughed while belly-aching daily about the latest SNAFU, they laughed about jawbreakers in the mess and ribbon-happy officers. Folks at home rationed fuel and stockings, collected pots and pans for the war effort and listened to the radio for the latest news from the front. The world was full of newspaper cartoons and strips, editorial cartoons, propaganda art, Armed Services Editions sent to the troops, and humor created by the troops themselves in such newspapers as Stars and Stripes and Wipers Times.

“Without humor we are doomed,” noted Nat Schmulowitz, local attorney and former library trustee, who donated his collection of 93 jest books to the San Francisco Public Library on April 1, 1947. The collection has grown to more than 22,000 volumes and includes periodicals and audio-visual materials; it is considered the most significant collection of its kind in a public library. Every year, the Book Arts & Special Collections Center presents an exhibition based on materials in the Schmulowitz Collection, in tribute to Mr. Nat Schmulowitz’s generosity and lifelong interest in the Library.

Bombs Away: Humor Goes to War – April 1–May 31, Main Library, Skylight Gallery, 6th Floor

Reclaiming Earth, an exhibition of Women Eco Artists Dialog (WEAD), showcases the work of more than 50 female artists in altered books, textiles, photographs and paintings and opens on April 8 in the Jewett Gallery.

The exhibit developed from a depression-era adage: Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without: Lessons from our Grandmothers. Works focus on the cultural values of conservation, preservation, and frugality practiced by ancestors and cultures that live in harmony with nature. The exhibit honors the 20-year local history of WEAD, which was founded by San Francisco environmental artist, Jo Hanson, who would have been 100 in 2018. WEAD is an international artist organization that focuses on ecological and social justice issues. Notable Gallerist Donna Seager served as juror.

Reclaiming Earth: Works by Women Eco Artists – April 8–June 24, Main Library, Jewett Gallery

Both exhibits are supported by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Related programs:

Mary Roach in Conversation with Steven Short

Beloved Bay Area author and New York Times bestseller, Mary Roach, is in conversation with KALW Producer Steven Short to discuss Roach’s latest work, Grunt; a book that tackles the science behind some of the most challenging adversaries for soldiers—panic, exhaustion, heat, flies and noise. Roach answers questions not found in any other book on the military: How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again. The author talk is part of the Annual Wit & humor Exhibition, Bombs Away: Humor Goes to War

Mary Roach in Conversation with Steven Short – April 13, 6:30 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium

Reclaiming Earth Opening Event: A discussion with the juror and WEAD artists – April 9, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium