Presented as part of San Leandro's Sesquicentennial event series.
This exhibition was on display (on metal prints!) at the San Leandro Main Library's art gallery from April-May 2022. As of early 2024, it's on display in the Little Brown Church via the Historical Society in San Leandro, CA.
Here Is a Sign (2022) is a photographic exploration of San Leandro historical signage in the modern environment. The aging neon signs and other commercial symbols of the mid-1900s are fast disappearing, and the remainders are adrift in a modern landscape.
The images in this exhibition offer a detailed view of San Leandro historical signage that may not otherwise be closely examined as we go about our daily lives: if you live here, when is the last time you’ve truly looked at these places? Have you noticed their disrepair? Do you still find them beautiful despite their condition? If you’re a long-time resident, do you have memories of these places in their prime?
With few exceptions—such as the historic BAL Theatre’s well-maintained facade—these signs are fading fast. In one instance (Pagano’s Liquors), I was there on the day a sign company covered the vintage sign with a modern plastic one. Much of the history present in these signs is being erased through neglect or the building’s ownership change. Do we, as a community, care about these landmarks? Could they be a tourist draw if they were repaired and maintained as an interesting and unique part of our community?
I love that San Leandro isn’t entirely full of chain stores and new construction, indistinguishable from any other bedroom community. I began this project as a celebration of vintage California signage, and ended it feeling like we can do better and care more about our city.
The artist would like to thank the San Leandro Sesquicentennial Steering Committee for making this exhibition possible, as well as for their encouragement and support of her first solo photography exhibition.