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EYE ON ART: Ware Sisters Leave Long Beach City College Legacy

Time: 2019-03-14 05:03cheongsam dress Click:

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Viewing the Ware Art Collection reminds us that turbulent U.S.-Asian diplomatic relations seems to be an ongoing event. The Ware Asian art collection is on display at the Long Beach City College Foundation building.

Helen, Pauline and Beulah Ware were born in the early 1900s, educated at USC, and spent most of their adult lives in Long Beach. Helen and Beulah worked with the Long Beach Unified School District as teachers and administrators. According to Dr. Virginia Baxter, the executive direction of the LBCC Foundation at the time, “the sisters were inspired to go to China by Pearl Buck’s novel, ‘The Good Earth'.”

In 1929, Pauline traveled to Beijing to teach English, followed in 1932 by Beulah and Helen, with stops in Honolulu, Japan and Hong Kong. All three sisters taught for several years in Beijing. During their travels through “the Orient,” the sisters purchased Asian art and artifacts and brought them to their Long Beach home.

ware collection brochure

The cover page of Ware Collection Inaugural Brochure featuring a section of a crewel rug tapestry with Daoist figures.

—Courtesy Long Beach City College Foundation

The pieces that ultimately became the Ware collection were chosen by then LBCC Asian Art professor Harvey Stupler, from pieces not intended for export from China, meaning the pieces were created for Chinese audiences. The Ware collection has found a permanent campus home in the LBCC Foundation building.

In addition to art pieces, many of the preserved documents provide a narrative about the long, and for the time, exotic, journeys. Sun Yat Sen, war lords and the beginning of the Communist party contributed to Chinese political chaos. Hawaii, with a thriving iron industry was not yet a state. The British were firmly ensconced in Hong Kong. And Shanghai had a thriving international zone, with German, Japanese, French, British and U.S. colonies. Receipts in the collection include a $61 invoice for a two-week stay at the Astor Hotel in Shanghai, and a paycheck stub from the Beijing YMCA Free English Night School.

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