This CAAM curated exhibition utilizes a range of imagery to explore Los Angeles' parallel universe of places and people that served to validate and further the progression of African American art between 1940-1980. Photographs from personal albums and institutional collections represent historical documentation of places and events, personal relationships and interactions. Others joined in, but ultimately, the community and the artists themselves proved to be the best source for "self-validation" in places such as Golden State Mutual Life Inusurance, Studio Watts Workshop, Watts Tower Art Center, Watts Summer Festival, Brockman Gallery, Gallery 32, Pearl C. Woods Gallery, St. Elmo's Vilalge, the Museum of African American Art, and many others. There were hundreds of working Black artists during this time period in Los Angeles. A sampling of the surnames in our exhibition include: Barthe, Beasley, the Davis brothers, Dickson, Jackson, LaRue Johnson, Hammons, Hassinger, Lane, Lewis, Mills, Outterbridge, Purifoy, Pinkney, Riddle, Saar, Sims, Waddy, Washington, Westmoreland, White, Woodard, Wyatt and others.
An Exhibition Celebrating the History of Black Artists in Los Angeles During the Second Half of the 20th Century
LOS ANGELES (September 26, 2011) – The California African American Museum (CAAM) is pleased to present Places of Validation, Art & Progression, their newest exhibition on display from September 29, 2011, to April 1, 2012. The exhibit takes viewers on a connected journey of personal stories and creativity to discover the people and places throughout Los Angeles that made it possible to experience the visual expression of African Americans in art during the 1940s – 1980s. The exhibition documents and analyzes a rich, but often unrecognized, history and highlights actions taken by African Americans and their comrades of like minds to create a loose but overlapping network of venues and platforms for Black artists whose work inspired and reflected the people of the community.
This exhibition specifically brings to life the history of the artists who helped birth one of the most influential art movements of the second half of the 20th century and the validators who supported and enabled them to achieve their goals in spite of the wider conditions of exclusion from the mainstream art presenting community. The perspective of Places of Validation, Art & is on the history and driving forces that made venues and opportunities possible for Black art to be seen while allowing the art to reflect the wide variety of artists, styles, venues and personalities that served the Black arts scene between 1940-1980. This emphasis is further illuminated through photographs, exhibition posters and notices, documents and personal letters and even institutional collections. Through the generosity of the Office of the California State Insurance Commissioner, we are particularly privileged to be able to include in the Places of Validation, Art & Progression exhibit for public viewing over 65 of the artworks that remain at this time unsold from the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance art collection -- which once was one of the premier corporate collections of African American art, then carefully assembled by artist and curator William Pajaud.
Some African American owned spaces have eventually garnered periodic recognition over the years like the Davis Brothers and Brockman Gallery, Suzanne Jackson with Gallery 32, The Gallery spearheaded by Samella Lewis and the enclave of St. Elmo’s Village founded by Rozelle and Roderick Sykes. Two major non-African American owned establishments Ankrum
and Heritage Galleries, each respectively gave opportunities for viewings to Black artists. But it is also the less acknowledged and often forgotten efforts of places like The Gallery Tanner, Studio Z, Pearl C Woods Gallery led by Greg Pitts; Studio Z, to those less talked about from converted garages to parking lots and living rooms where artists and collectors would share, and sell and barter their perspectives on art and the state of African American culture.
“Places of Validation, Art & Progression is significant to our artistic culture, because it highlights artistic history that may have been lost or overlooked except for a select group of individuals,” said CAAM Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson. “Even the California African American Museum represents the ‘progression’ as we got our start in the late 70’s. With 180 art works 50 video documented murals produced respectively by 90 artists and six interview viewing and listening stations to illustrate the depth and variety of African American visual art expression from the time period, Places of Validation, Art & Progression is an eclectic sampling of art and history intertwined to reveal the value of self-validation and the progress that it fostered.” [A list of artists included in the show is attached.]
Places of Validation, Art & Progression is part of a unique, multi-institution art event of 60+ Southern California cultural institutions spearheaded by the Getty Foundation titled Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 and initiated and supported by The Getty Foundation and presenting sponsors The Getty and Bank of America. Additional Places of Validation, Art & Progression support has also been provided by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Bret Price, James Blevins, the UCLA Library Special Collections, the California African American Museum and Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum, and the dozens of collectors who graciously made loans so that we could make this POV show possible.
Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 will feature a week of opening press previews beginning at the Getty Center on Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with museum loops, including press tours at the California African American Museum (CAAM) on Friday, September 30, 2011, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 2, 2011, 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. A curator will be available to provide an overview of the exhibit and answer media questions. For more information on the California African American Museum visit www.caamuseum.org or call (213) 744-7432. Admission is always free.