By Cristeen MARTINEZ
Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945-1980 is an unprecedented six-month series of exhibits at more than 60 cultural institutions ranging from Santa Barbara to San Diego, Santa Monica to Palm Springs. The collaboration, the largest ever undertaken in the area and possibly the country, tells the story of the rise of the Los Angeles postwar art scene and how it became a new force in the art world. It began a decade ago as a joint project between the Getty Foundation and the Getty Research Institute to recover the historical record of art in Southern California. Long forgotten treasures were uncovered in collections around the world and artists were identified whose work predated other, more recognizable work. Subsequently, the Getty Foundation expanded the project to include other institutions throughout the region and supported it through grants totaling $10 million. The early grants funded surveys of public and private collections, followed by awards to libraries, archives and museums to preserve and present material from this essential period of Los Angeles art history. At the same time, the Getty Research Institute acquired the archives of artists, curators and dealers, as well as institutions and began conducting oral histories with artists and other art-world figures from this era. Compiling and exhibiting the resulting vast amounts of information and artwork was best shared among the partners. Ultimately, each of the participating institutions will make its own unique contribution to the story through simultaneous exhibitions, programs and publications.
Some of the institutions participating in Pacific Standard Time include MOCA, the J. Paul Getty Museum, LACMA, Santa Monica Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Exhibitions range from the ceramics of Beatrice Wood and Peter Voulkos to the architecture of Esther McCoy, the furniture of Sam Maloof and Charles and Ray Eames, California landscape photography, ethnic artists and exhibitions that document the political and social scenes of the Southland. Because virtually no art museum infrastructure existed in postwar Los Angeles, colleges and universities became the exhibitors of the contemporary art world. Today they are included as participating institutions: UC Riverside, the Hammer Museum at UCLA, UCI and the Williamson Gallery at Scripps College, among others.
Art lovers will be hard pressed to visit each exhibition and event during the next six months and might need to prioritize their visits to the exhibitions based on their interest in the topic, location or perhaps their museum membership. If choosing an exhibition based on proximity, there are five venues within a 10-mile radius of the Crescenta Valley: the Autry National Center, Pacific Asia Museum, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, the Armory Center for the Arts and Norton Simon Museum. The exhibitions at selected museums:
- Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens: The House That Sam Built: Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945-1985. The House that Sam Built will showcase classic examples of woodworker Maloof’s work, spanning more that 25 years of his career, alongside approximately 80 works by his friends and colleagues.
- Autry National Center: Art Along the Hyphen: The Mexican-American Generation. This exhibition will present the work of Mexican-American artists who contributed to the emerging California iconography and the nation’s imagination, whether as part of the American West, Spanish California, or Hollywood.
- Pacific Asia Museum: 46 N. Los Robles: A History of the Pasadena Art Museum. The exhibition will present important modern and contemporary works shown at the Pasadena Art Museum in its groundbreaking exhibitions, along with installation photographs of the exhibitions.
Pacific Standard Time will be opening at many of the locations Oct. 1-2 and will continue to April 2012. Getty also encouraged L.A. commercial galleries to stage related shows this fall, and more than 70 are participating. Collectively, the scope of the alliance is tremendous and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the viewer.
For more information visit www.getty.edu/pacificstandardtime.