FAR and away: Foundation for Art Resources and Collective Engagement, 1979 – 1982
1714 21st St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
In its early days, the nonprofit organization Foundation for Art Resources (FAR) was an aesthetic social experiment in which questions were asked about group and individual identity, group governance, social power, engagement and aesthetic relevance. With the conversation at the Sam Francis Gallery, Dorit Cypis, Christina Ritchie, Dana Duff, and Rosamund Felsen will have the opportunity to unwind the past of FAR in order to examine its successes and critical challenges, with an eye to how such collective experiments remain relevant to artists today.
ABOUT FOUNDATION FOR ART RESOURCES: Art dealers Claire Copley, Constance Lewallen, and Morgan Thomas formed the nonprofit Foundation for Art Resources (FAR) in 1977 to accommodate artists who, according to Thomas, “did not wish to inhabit a neutral white space with frames surrounding what were called ‘pieces.’” In 1979, the three founders transferred direction of FAR to artist Dorit Cypis, who then turned to colleague Christina Ritchie to share with her the leadership role.
As younger members of the art community deeply questioning the meaning of art’s institutionalization and commodification, Cypis and Ritchie were committed to fostering FAR’s artist collective identity. Cypis and Ritchie invited Mitchell Syrop, Paul Tzanetopoulos, Victor Henderson, and Lee Kaplan to join them on the board while extending an invitation to others like Rosamund Felsen to serve in an advisory capacity. Together, Cypis, Ritchie and the others developed collaborative partnerships amongst many private, public and educational institutions throughout Los Angeles. Through FAR, they produced and presented contemporary site-specific installations, publications, video, film, performance, dialogues, and radio interviews. They created the important lecture series Art Talk Art through which theoretical and critical issues of contemporary art and culture were addressed.
Christina Ritchie stayed on with FAR until 1981 while Dorit Cypis would remain until 1982. Other artists in turn replaced them when they stepped down. Since the time of their involvement, there have been more than 100 different FAR board members who have produced and presented public art events and projects. After more than 30 years in existence, FAR is presently in a less actively experimental phase, while other local nonprofit art organizations have arisen to address the shifting interests and concerns of the arts community. In the end, however, FAR still can be considered the longest extant arts collective without an exhibition space in Los Angeles.