Archives & Artists | KCET
Archives & Artists
Monday, January 31, was the final day of Los Angeles Arts Month, an annual campaign that every January reminds Southern Californians of the region's flourishing art community. Arts Month - as well as popular events like the Downtown Art Walk - may embody the city's burgeoning artistic potential, but the city's artistic heritage is preserved in the archives of cultural institutions across Southern California. Archiving not only finished works by L.A. artists but also papers, photographs, and other materials related to the artists' lives and practice, these collections provide insight into the artists' influences, motivations and their relationship with the city they called home.
UCLA's William Andrews Clark Memorial Library houses an extensive collection of works and archival materials related to a group of Southern California artists who practiced their art on printing presses. Fine printing emerged in the late nineteenth century as part of the Arts and Crafts Movement, emphasizing the aesthetic qualities of books and other printed works through high-quality paper, careful construction, and beautiful illustrations and wood engravings.
As the Arts and Crafts Movement spread from Great Britain to the United States, Southern California became home to a large concentration of fine printers, many of whose works were collected by Clark Memorial Library founder William Andrews Clark, Jr. The wood engravings to the left and at the top of this post, both courtesy of the Clark Library, were created by Paul Landacre (1893-1963), an influential printmaker who was a fixture of the prewar bohemian art scene in Echo Park.
More recent L.A. artists are the focus of Pacific Standard Time, an upcoming collaboration between the Getty Research Institute and more than fifty L.A.-area cultural institutions. The initiative, which launches in October 2011, celebrates the vibrant art community that emerged in postwar Los Angeles with dozens of exhibitions throughout Southern California.
Among the participating institutions is the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, which is planning the most comprehensive showing of its art collection to date. Titled Cruising the Archive: Four Decades of Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, the exhibition will feature rarely-seen artwork alongside documents culled from the organization's archives, putting the art into a historical and cultural context. For example, paintings by Sidney Bronstein will be accompanied by the artist's diary and personal correspondence. Materials related to queer activism, like the poster to the right by P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Rights in Defense and Education), which protested a 1967 police raid on the Black Cat in Silver Lake, will also be included.
Other archives, even those without original artworks in their collections, possess a wealth of valuable materials related to Southern California artists. The Archival Center of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles preserves paper records and visual artifacts related to artist Leo Politi's work for the archdiocese. The personal photographic archive of award-winning photojournalist Shelley Gazin contains many images of local artists in their studios, including Charles Arnoldi, Robbie Conal, and Laddie Dill. And the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, while not based in Southern California, contains oral history interviews with prominent Los Angeles artists such as Clinton Adams and Peter Alexander.
Many of the archives who contributed the above images are members of L.A. as Subject, an association of more than 230 libraries, museums, official archives, personal collections, and other institutions. Hosted by the USC Libraries, L.A. as Subject is dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region. Our posts here will provide a view into the archives of individuals and cultural institutions whose collections inform the great narrative—in all its complex facets—of Southern California.
Students in a Jakarta neighborhood are trading plastic waste for Wi-Fi access so they can continue learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Xiye Bastida is committed to helping create a future where climate activism is a space where people feel included and their actions matter.
Naelyn Pike, Chiricahua Apache, is fighting with paperwork and by speaking out to stop Resolution Copper, a foreign-owned mining company, from extracting copper ore from the Apache sacred site in Arizona.
Ruth Miller is a member of the Dena’ina Athabascan Alaska Native tribe who believes prioritizing Indigenous women’s voices in discussions about climate justice is crucial.
From its origins as a seaside resort to its fame as a countercultural hub, Venice Beach boasts a rich history. This episode explores the original plans for Venice, the Beat poets who lived there and the history of the Abbot Kinney commercial district.
American history has long been told as a triumphant march westward from the Atlantic coast, but in southern California, our history stretches back further in time.
Long before Hollywood imagined the Wild West, Los Angeles was a real frontier town of gunslingers, lynch mobs, and smoke-belching locomotives.