Downtown Lancaster and MOAH's 'Activation'
Day Trippin' with Mel
February 19, 2022
Years ago I used to drive down to Lancaster to shop at King Photo Supply. It was one of a handful of open businesses on a very sad and graffitied Lancaster Boulevard. Most of the other storefronts were empty; some were boarded up.
My, how things have changed.
The City of Lancaster has done a complete turnaround over the years in making their downtown a destination in itself. There are no empty storefronts now. Trees line the center of the street's pull-in parking spaces, murals decorate many buildings' walls and even store windows, and crosswalks are marked with colored patterns on the pavement.
Multistory apartment buildings have risen adjacent to the boulevard and the city's police department is on the east end of the street. Pedestrians and bicycles are welcome on the boulevard. Stores and businesses are thriving up and down the blocks and offer a variety of shopping and dining experiences, and many of the eateries offer outside seating. (I'll be offering more information about some of these special places in future Day Trippin' columns.)
The street is closed off every Thursday, year 'round from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., for the popular and well-attended Boulevard Farmers Market. And culturally speaking, downtown Lancaster is home to the Boulevard Cinema (featuring three movie screens and those wonderfully comfortable recliner seats, a variety of coffees, and real butter on the popcorn), the Lancaster Center for Performing Arts (which offers a plethora of plays and concerts through the year), and MOAH, the Museum of Art and History.
I recently went down on a Saturday to see the art show at MOAH, and I was not disappointed. I'm happily suggesting this show as a day trip, adding that you might want to check out downtown while you're at it, and maybe have a little lunch at one of the several cafes on the boulevard as the art show only takes about an hour to see.
The current show is called "Activation," subtitled "Activating the Archives." While most of us tend to think of "archives" as having to do with the past, according to the featured artists who are using the past to look ahead, "activating archives is the key to shaping a more compassionate, inclusive, and empowered future for all."
Featuring the works of Mark Steve Greenfield, Paul Stephen Benjamin, Keith Collins, April Bey, Carla Jay Harris, and Sergio Hernandez, in what I would also call a salute to February's Black History month, the show offers works of vibrant color, creative mixed media, photo art, pen and ink drawings that are so detailed they almost appear to be three-dimensional, video presentations, and poster art. As art should do, the works elicit a variety of emotions, especially when considering the artists' definition of activating the archives.
"Activation" runs through April 17, 2022, so you still have plenty of time to check it out.
MOAH is located at 665 W. Lancaster Blvd. The Lancaster Boulevard is between Avenues I and J and downtown is located east of the 14 freeway, between 10th Street West and Old Sierra Highway.
There is no admission fee to the museum, so bring a friend or two or three, or the whole family. The place is handicapped accessible and has a number of seating blocks.
About masks: when I was there the mask mandate was still in effect and masks were required; by the time this article appears the state-wide mandate will have lifted but Lancaster (Los Angeles County) may still be requiring masks indoors. You can call to find out current requirements at (661) 723-6250.
© 2022 Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local writer and photographer and day-tripper, welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.