Exhibition will run through October 2024
By Anabel Marquez
“The Place We Call Home”
When faced with the incessant urban sprawl of the L.A. Metro area, some people wonder if they’ll ever reach greener pastures.
But salvation lies ahead… a short jaunt north of Los Angeles along one of three westward-leading highways transports you into neighboring Ventura County, whose vast agricultural landscape reminds us that the open space of strawberry fields and orchards, is literally food for the soul.
In the small town of Santa Paula, right off the 126 Fwy, the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum, is currently displaying a special exhibition titled “The Place We Call Home,” in celebration of the county’s 150th anniversary.
We meet with the museum’s chief curator, Carlos Ortega, and, after touring the facility, it becomes clear why many Angelenos have left busy Los Angeles neighborhoods for cities like Camarillo, Ojai and Oxnard— there’s a certain suburban peace you feel in Ventura County and the current museum exhibition does a great job in transmitting that.
“This was a community effort from the beginning,” explains Ortega describing the various installations that comprise “The Place We Call Home”. There is a spinning wheel that is intended to be a visual metaphor of how a region’s political landscape can change over time prioritizing the focus on certain events while concealing others; there is a TV installation with six screens showing moving images of people in the area’s farming communities throughout the decades. And, among other displays, the photo wall, a mosaic of images past and present, chronicles the county’s diverse history.
“This is a very small sample,” Ortega says. “The point was, you don’t need to be a politician, you don’t need to be famous in order to be a part of the community and help each other.” The photo wall features three mirrors that were submitted by the Chumash Art Collective. The Chumash were the original inhabitants of the region.
“In Chumash culture, time is a cycle that repeats itself constantly,” explains Ortega. “The way they conceptualize time is— everything intertwines. We live with our ancestors from the past, we are here today and the future generations are with us as well.”
The mirrors are positioned so that guests can see themselves surrounded by images of others who’ve helped make Ventura County what it is today, says Ortega.
“The Place We Call Home” exhibition is a fitting tribute to Ventura County’s rich past, present, and future. It highlights the significant events, industries, and people that have shaped the county over the last 150 years. Most significantly, perhaps, is the exhibition’s intention to encourage visitors to ask themselves what home means to them.
“The concept of home can vary and evolve through the years and it can be a mix of many things and this is an exploration of it” – Carlos Ortega, Chief curator, The Museum of Ventura County
“The Place We Call Home” is a result of extensive research and community involvement with collaboration from fifteen artists, six historical societies, six photographers, and several other local residents, organizations and non-profits, making it a truly authentic representation of the county’s heritage.
The exhibition is scheduled to run through October 2024 and will be paired with a series of events and programs to celebrate the county’s 150th anniversary. It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about Ventura County’s past, present, and future and it serves as a reminder of the area’s diverse communities and their contributions.