‘Sign of the Times’

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald What a difference 64 years makes – contrasting styles in presidential election posters from 1908 (left) and 1972. Both are part of an exhibit opening Friday at the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center.

MOSES LAKE — Politics ain’t beanbag, the saying goes, which means it’s serious business. But for a serious business it’s pretty colorful, and that’s the focus of a new exhibit opening Friday at the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center.

The opening reception for “Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster, 1844-2012” is at 5 p.m. Friday at the museum, 401 South Balsam St. Admission is free.

Washington State University professor Cornell Clayton will give a lecture on politics at 7 p.m. “Crazy Politics: Populism, Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in America” is sponsored by the museum and Humanities Washington. Admission to the lecture is free as well.

“Sign of the Times” is partly a traveling exhibit, with additions from the museum’s own collection and donations from local residents, said museum director Freya Liggett.

The traveling exhibit is drawn from national collections, and includes posters dating back to the contest of James K. Polk (who won) and Henry Clay (who didn’t). Most of the posters from 1940 and later are original, Liggett said. The traveling exhibit includes information on the posters and their designers.

Museum officials decided to book the exhibit because it fit well with items already in museum’s collection, Liggett said, and thought it would be a good opportunity to find and display other memorabilia that might be out there.

The museum’s collection includes a number of donations from Dr. Robert Ruby, who saved posters, yard signs and other material from candidates of both parties. Other local residents brought back souvenirs from political conventions, or kept mementos from campaigns that had interested them.

Campaign posters are a special kind of art – they must do more than catch the viewer’s attention. “It’s not just catching your eye, but convincing you of something,” Liggett said. “Some do it better than others.”

Museum officials also are continuing the “Adult Swim” program, art and crafts projects for adults provided during the opening reception. The first Adult Swim of 2017 is all about bacon, titled “Don’t Go Bacon My Heart.” Participants can make candy that resembles bacon, make Valentine cards with a bacon theme and decorate tote bags with hearts. “Something a little lighthearted to go with the heavy politics.”

Camas Cove Cellars will provide a no-host wine bar during the reception. People who want more information can contact the museum, 509-764-3830.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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