An exciting artistic collaboration, entitled Pacific Standard Time, was launched last Thursday at the posh, members-only Soho House, on Sunset in Hollywood. Various local museum directors, publicists, curators, artists and critics as well as major sponsors were in attendance for the announcement. This brave new project hopes to capture and commemorate the very birth of the vibrant and diverse Los Angeles Art Scene, tracing its roots and growth from 1945 until the eighties, illustrating how this movement became a force in the art world that resonated throughout the world.
Telling a large-scale story of artistic innovation and social change through a multitude of different viewpoints, Pacific Standard Time is the first initiative of its kind.
Deborah Marrow, Interim President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, joined with cultural and civic leaders from throughout Southern California to announce a host of new initiatives, partnerships, exhibitions and programs for the region-wide initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, including presenting sponsorship from Bank of America.
The first project of its kind, Pacific Standard Time has now begun the countdown to its October 2011 opening, when more than sixty cultural institutions throughout Southern California will come together to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene and how it became a new force in the art world. This collaboration – the largest ever undertaken by cultural institutions in the region – will continue through April 2012.
The Getty Trust has organized and largely funded the event, initiated through grants totaling $10 million from the Getty Foundation.
“As we start marking the days toward the opening, the excitement about Pacific Standard Time continues to grow, and so does the project itself,” Deborah Marrow stated. “What began as an effort to document the milestones in this region’s artistic history has expanded until it is now becoming a great creative landmark in itself. In fact, the story of Pacific Standard Time is so big, it needs this region-wide collaboration to tell it.”
Presenting the artistic evolution of Los Angeles through an unprecedented array of simultaneous exhibitions and programs, Pacific Standard Time involves institutions of every size and character: from LACMA, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Hammer Museum and the Getty Museum to the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Japanese American National Museum, Watts Towers Arts Center and more than half a dozen university museums and programs. Centered in Greater Los Angeles but extending as far as San Diego, Orange County, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs, these institutions will each make a distinctive contribution to the story of art and social change in Los Angeles in the crucial years after World War II through the tumultuous period of the 1960s and 70s.
Mark Siegel, Chairman of the Getty’s Board of Trustees, commented, “We know that this era has had a million moments of impact on arts and culture across the United States and beyond. As we move toward the opening of Pacific Standard Time, and share the story of this era with the world, support for this major initiative continues to grow with the help of our community leaders, foundations and our presenting sponsor Bank of America.”
“We are proud to be the presenting sponsor of Pacific Standard Time, a project which will bring together people of every neighborhood and background, and involve virtually all of this region’s cultural institutions,” stated Janet Lamkin, California State President of Bank of America. “We believe that supporting arts and culture contributes to a climate where innovation flourishes, economies grow, and people, business and communities thrive. We look forward to our banking centers becoming hubs for Pacific Standard Time, and our associates look forward to sharing information about the programs with their customers and local neighborhoods, to help extend the extraordinary opportunity of Pacific Standard Time to as many people as possible throughout the Southland and enrich the experience for them.”
Major donors who have now joined the expanded circle of support for Pacific Standard Time include Louise and John Bryson, Kelly and Robert Day, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Holmes Tuttle, Jon and Lillian Lovelace, Anne and Jim Rothenberg, Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom, Mark and Christina Siegel, The Ahmanson Foundation, The Broad Art Foundation, California Community Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Mohn Family Foundation, and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.
From January 20 through 29, 2012, Pacific Standard Time will present a performance art and public art festival, which will showcase this critical component in the history of the period and the path-breaking spirit of art in Southern California. As many as 25 projects will be presented, including re-stagings of historic performances, and reinterpretations by younger artists of the works of their predecessors, at institutions and sites from Malibu to Watts, and from Downtown to the desert. Organized by Glenn Phillips, Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art at the Getty Research Institute, and Lauri Firstenberg, Director/Curator of LA><ART, the festival will present events including a new pyrotechnic performance by Judy Chicago, A Butterfly for Pomona, based on her Atmosphere performances of the early 1970s, and a re-creation of James Turrell’s early flare performance Burning Bridges, presented by Pomona College Museum of Art; a performance by Richard Jackson, organized by the Armory Center for the Arts, titled Accidents in Abstract Painting, in which the artist will crash a remote-controlled model airplane loaded with paint into a wall in the Arroyo Seco; a series of West Coast punk performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art; a major new site-specific commission by Hirokazu Kosaka at the Getty Center, organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute; Trio, new performances by Vaginal Davis, Andrea Fraser, and Mike Kelley inspired by the legacy of the Los Angeles Woman’s Building, presented by West of Rome Public Art; and a series of radio and Internet streaming events titled KPST (or Kaleidoscope of Pacific Standard Time), mingling live coverage of festival events with historic recordings, organized by curator Julie Lazar.
A virtual hub for Pacific Standard Time, www.pacificstandardtime.org was also launched, and will offer both an informational and experiential portal for the project. Among its many features, the website will enable visitors to design their own tours of the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions and programs, download them to their handheld devices and carry the information along on their route.
In the spirit of collaboration, Pacific Standard Time participating institutions are also developing a program of cross-promotions throughout the region. Among the initiatives being offered to encourage visitors to move from one museum to another along the Pacific Standard Time circuit will be specially focused weekend programs to attract audiences to multiple exhibitions for an in-depth look at themes, and vouchers to enable people to explore additional Pacific Standard Time offerings. During the opening weekend celebrations in October 2011, Southern Californian residents, tourists, and community and art world leaders alike will also have the opportunity to take free shuttle buses between participating institutions, which will be provided by Pacific Standard Time sponsor South Coast Plaza.
Another feature of the cross-promotions will be the most collaborative region-wide volunteer program ever organized in Southern California. Aimed at providing visitors with person-to-person information, the program will deploy volunteers in readily identifiable Pacific Standard Time tee-shirts to all participating sites, where they will answer questions, give directions and suggest other exhibitions and programs that the visitor might enjoy. The Pacific Standard Time marketing campaign and website will help to reinforce the cross-promotions throughout the region.
Partnerships have also been established with institutions from the travel and tourism industry to support visitors traveling to Southern California for Pacific Standard Time: the Four Seasons Los Angeles; Turon Travel, dedicated to creating bespoke travel itineraries for the international art community; and LA Inc., the Convention and Visitors Bureau, have all joined as official travel partners of Pacific Standard Time.
Among the institutions that were newly announced as joining Pacific Standard Time are A+D Architecture and Design Museum, California Museum of Photography at University of California Riverside, Chapman University Guggenheim Gallery, Chinese American Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Fisher Museum of Art at University of Southern California, Institute for Arts and Media at California State University Northridge, Laguna Art Museum, MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House, Mingei International Museum, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College. New programming partners include The Broad Stage, California Institute of Technology, Center Theatre Group, Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, LA><ART, Los Angeles Conservancy, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Skirball Cultural Center, West of Rome Public Art, Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University, and Zacalo Public Square.
About the Birth of the Los Angeles Art Scene
Modern art in Los Angeles has an exciting and vibrant history. Its unique artistic trajectory sets it apart from New York and other centers of modernism, but its distinctive contributions have never been fully appreciated.
Before the Second World War, Walter and Louise Arensberg installed their incomparable collection of Dada and Surrealist art in their home in Hollywood, where it had an enormous impact on the local art scene. At the same time, the German emigre dealer Galka Scheyer brought her definitive collection of German Expressionism to Los Angeles, where it was eventually donated to the Pasadena Museum of Art (now the Norton Simon Museum). The presence of these collections already suggested a different path for modern art in Los Angeles, one not based on the Post-Impressionism and Cubism that were so dominant in the New York and Parisian art worlds. A third indication of the developments to come was the emergence of regional styles in architecture. The mild climate of Southern California, together with the modernist sensibilities imported by Austrian and German emigre architects and the indigenous hacienda tradition, combined to produce structures by architects including Richard Neutra and John Lautner that were destined to have a great impact on the rest of the nation.
By the 1950s, Los Angeles was developing its own art forms, such as assemblage sculpture and hard-edge painting. This avant-garde art coalesced in the early 1960s around two institutions: the Ferus Gallery (founded by Walter Hopps and Ed Kienholz as the first exhibition space devoted principally to new Southern California art) and the Pasadena Museum of Art. By the mid-1960s, Los Angeles had become a center of Pop art on par with New York and London through the work of artists such as Ed Ruscha and David Hockney (the great chroniclers of Los Angeles), and by the end of the decade a number of Los Angeles artists had developed international reputations, becoming well-known in Europe before they were recognized in the United States. Among them were John Baldessari (one of the founders of Conceptual art) and Bruce Nauman (the most radical Postminimalist on the West Coast). Many artists in Los Angeles also explored the intersection of art and science, culminating in LACMA’s Art and Technology project of 1968-1971: a series of collaborations among artists, scientists and engineers. This art-and-science connection also led to the California Light and Space movement, which included artists such as Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Maria Nordman. When combined with the vibrant performance art scene, this keen interest in technology also gave rise to one of America’s earliest communities of video artists, particularly in Long Beach.
As important as formal innovation was to the birth of the Los Angeles art scene, the emergence of artists from previously marginalized communities, along with their previously unrepresented viewpoints and subject matter, was equally crucial.
The period of the Mexican American Generation in Los Angeles, 1945-1965, marked the emergence of the first widely recognized Mexican American artists, such as Manuel Rivera Regalado and Eduardo Carrillo. These artists laid the groundwork for a second artistic flowering, 1965-1980, associated with the Chicano civil rights movement. Artists such as Gronk, Judy Baca and Patssi Valdez created art and institutions that reflected their commitment to social protest, cultural identity and historical awareness.
At the beginning of the 1960s, African American artists began to fight for exhibition opportunities and for the hiring of African American curators. A seminal 1966 exhibition at UCLA entitled The Negro in American Art showcased Los Angeles artists, and as the decade progressed, artists of color began to have a greater presence in local art schools. The exclusion of their work from mainstream galleries led to the establishment of alternative venues such as the Brockman Gallery and Gallery 32. These spaces encouraged a burgeoning of modes of expression, from the assemblage pieces of Betye Saar and Noah Purifoy to the more abstract and conceptual practices and performance of Senga Nengudi, Maren Hassinger and David Hammons.
Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro started the Feminist Art Program at CalArts in 1971, producing the landmark exhibition Womanhouse in early 1972. The next year Chicago, Arlene Raven and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville founded the Woman’s Building in downtown Los Angeles, which presented hundreds of exhibitions and became a center for performance art in the seventies and eighties.
The record of this prolonged outburst of creativity was for too long scattered in cartons and files all over Southern California, difficult to access and in some cases in danger of being lost or destroyed. Through the Pacific Standard Time initiative, the records have been preserved, the history has been re-examined, and the full story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene has been readied for public presentation at exhibitions throughout Southern California.
About Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 – 1980
Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together for six months beginning in October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene and how it became a major new force in the art world. Each institution will make its own contribution to this grand-scale story of artistic innovation and social change, told through a multitude of simultaneous exhibitions and programs. Exploring and celebrating the significance of the crucial years after World War II through the tumultuous period of the 1960s and 70s, Pacific Standard Time encompasses developments from modernist architecture and design to multi-media installations; from L.A. Pop to post-minimalism; from the films of the African-American L.A. Rebellion to the feminist happenings of the Woman’s Building; from ceramics to Chicano performance art; and from Japanese-American design to the pioneering work of artists’ collectives.
Pacific Standard Time involves cultural institutions of every size and character across Southern California, from Greater Los Angeles and Orange County to San Diego, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs.
Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.
Report by Pauline Adamek