Edited by Frank LaPena, Mark Dean Johnson, and Kristina Perea Gilmore
University of California Press, 176 pages, $50
In June, Governor Gavin Newsom apologized for the state-sponsored genocide that by 1900 had eradicated 90 percent of California’s Native Americans. But since the 1960s, Native Californian artists have grappled with this erasure in their work. When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California, edited by Frank LaPena, Mark Dean Johnson, and Kristina Perea Gilmore to accompany a show at Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum, doesn’t obscure the state’s sordid history. From LaPena’s lithograph “History of California Indians” to Linda Aguilar’s basket decorated with shells, bingo markers, and cut-up credit cards, the images challenge stereotypes in astonishing ways.
Edited by Save the Redwoods League
Heyday Books, 224 pages, $100
Save the Redwoods League’s The Once and Future Forest: California’s Iconic Redwoods is buoyed by superlatives: no tree is taller than the redwood, or more spiritually evocative. “Then I went into a kind of trance,” contributor David Harris writes, “in which my fatigue evaporated and I lost track of time.” Though the book mostly operates out of new age reverence, the ironic heroism of the conservation movement—affluent white men “saving” the forests from their exploitative counterparts and forefathers—is dutifully addressed. If The Once and Future Forest doesn’t reframe that perspective (the contributors are by no means diverse), it envisions a more inclusive future. We can look up to the redwoods: they’re a token of adaptive life.