California African American Museum

The California African American Museum explores the history, art, and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States. CAAM houses a permanent collection of more than five thousand works of art, artifacts, and historical documents along with a publicly accessible research library, and presents dynamic rotating exhibitions and public programs.

Current Exhibitions

Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye

February 16 – September 4, 2022

To tailor a garment by “rock of eye” is to rely on the drape in the fitting process—that is, to rely on experience over mathematical measurement. Draping is a kind of drawing in space: a freehand, an intuition, a trust of materials. Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye, the artist’s first museum solo exhibition, brings together collages, drawings, sculptures, and installations that draw the contours of body and place. It begins with, and departs from, his past assemblages and collages that center magazine images of the Black male body and trace the social history and form of the zoot suit, a garment at the center of the 1943 attacks primarily on Mexican American, African American, and Filipino American youth in Los Angeles known as the Zoot Suit Riots. Montes-Michie was born in El Paso, Texas, and his practice reflects his experience growing up along the United States and Mexico border.

The exhibition is presented in tandem with the artist’s monograph, Rock of Eye (co-published by CAAM, Rivers Institute, and Siglio Press), which deconstructs Montes-Michie’s collage practice. In the book and in CAAM’s galleries, repurposed images lead from figure to ground—occupying an ambiguous space between portraiture and landscape—and reveal common threads between borderland subjectivity and geography.

Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye is a collaboration between CAAM and the Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought in New Orleans. The exhibition is curated by Andrea Andersson, Rivers Institute founding director and chief curator, with Jordan Amirkhani, curator, Rivers Institute, and Taylor Renee Aldridge, visual arts curator, CAAM.

Mario Moore | Enshrined: Presence + Preservation

March 23 – October 2, 2022

Mario Moore, born and based in Detroit, is a figurative painter whose subjects stand tall, gazing confidently at the viewer. They convey a dignified presence without regalia, a type of depiction that places Moore’s portraiture within a lineage of artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Barkley L. Hendricks, and one of Moore’s earliest influences, the seventeenth-century Spanish painter Diego Velázquez.

Mario Moore | Enshrined: Presence + Preservation, Moore’s first solo exhibition in California, brings together work from early in his career as well as his most recent series, The Work of Several Lifetimes (2019), created with the support of Princeton University’s esteemed Hodder Fellowship. Together, these works represent the artist’s desire to make visible the dedicated work of marginalized groups in this country. For many years, Moore has foregrounded the contributions of essential and frontline workers in his paintings, an effort that has become even more poignant during this time of global pandemic, as their labors have enabled and ensured the well-being of us all. This exhibition brings to light Moore’s commitment to celebrating his subjects—both their labor and leisure. His paintings encourage us to question who is deserving of portraiture and, thus, preservation.

Mario Moore | Enshrined: Presence + Preservation is organized by Taylor Renee Aldridge, visual arts curator.

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