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Hal Wells



Cesar Chavez at City Hall, holding a large sign that says, "farmworkers say... don't buy 'red coach' lettuce", December 11, 1979
Vintage wire photograph on paper

Creation Place: North America
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted gift of Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg in honor of Myrlie Evers-Williams.
Accession Number: P2021.13.117

Commentary
Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was an American labor leader and Civil Rights activist. He and Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW) in 1962. Originally a Mexican-American farm worker, Chavez became the best known Latino American Civil Rights activist. He was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. Chavez' public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers' struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his efforts had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida.

Marks
On verso: artist's credit stamp, manuscript title and date.

Materials
Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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