New Grants for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
In addition to the Foundation’s international activities that relate to culture at risk, the highest priority of the past year was Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. This region-wide exploration of Latin American and Latino art took a big step forward in March 2016 when the Foundation announced new exhibition grants to forty-three organizations across Southern California. From September 2017 through January 2018, audiences will be able to see different aspects of Latin American and Latino art from the ancient world to the present day through exhibitions and programs at museums and other cultural organizations, large and small, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and from Los Angeles to Palm Springs.
All of the Getty-supported exhibitions for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA are grounded in significant original research, including oral histories, collection and studio visits, and numerous hours of work in local, national, and international archives. Altogether there are hundreds of experts involved in creating the exhibitions. The research is made possible through earlier planning grants awarded by the Foundation in 2013 and 2014, and teams of curators, other scholars, and artists in Southern California have been working diligently over the past three years with partners in museums, universities, and arts organizations across Latin America.
The collaborative framework for this initiative began with Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980, a similar region-wide effort that took place in 2011 and brought together more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene in the decades following the Second World War. Fueled by Getty Foundation grants over a ten-year period, Pacific Standard Time rescued an endangered history and shared it with the public. The initiative also left a strong legacy of more than forty exhibition publications of new research, accessible archives, and a lasting spirit of partnership among cultural organizations in the region.
Efforts like the first Pacific Standard Time have helped solidify Los Angeles’s position at the vanguard of contemporary culture. Now cultural organizations across Southern California are examining the strong link between Los Angeles and Latin America. Over 230 years ago, in 1781, the city of Los Angeles (then called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles) was founded as part of New Spain, and momentum is building as cultural organizations across Southern California prepare to connect with this history in new ways through Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
The Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions funded during the last year range from monographic studies of individual artists to broad surveys that encompass art from many countries. While the majority of exhibitions will emphasize modern and contemporary art, there will also be crucial shows about the ancient world and the pre-modern era. Art of all media will be on display, from paintings, drawings, and sculpture to photography, film, and performance art. Here are just a few examples of what visitors can expect to see come fall 2017 among the wide-ranging exhibitions that are being prepared with the Getty Foundation’s support.
From Chicano Activists to Video Art Pioneers
Playing with Fire: The Art of Carlos Almaraz will be the first major retrospective of one of the most influential Los Angeles artists of the 1970s and ‘80s. An active participant in the Chicano mural movement, Almaraz was perhaps best known as a founding member of the artist collective Los Four (along with Frank Romero, Roberto de la Rocha, and Gilbert Luján). The exhibition is one of five Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA shows taking place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and it will feature more than sixty works (mostly paintings and pastels) that illustrate his career from his early political-activist works for the farm workers’ causa to his later work which became more psychological, dreamlike, and mystical. Playing with Fire will include major masterpieces from Almaraz’s mature career, including Echo Park Lake (1982), a twenty-four-foot-long painting composed of four panels currently dispersed among three different owners, which will be reunited in the exhibition for the first time since 1987. Other artists who will be the subject of monographic shows include Chilean-born video art pioneer Juan Downey, Argentine-born conceptual art trailblazer David Lamelas, Chicano activist-artist Gilbert “Magu” Luján, and Brazilian-born installation artist Valeska Soares.
Thematic Surveys That Cross Borders
While histories of Latin American art are often told as country-by-country narratives, many Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions offer a new approach that crosses national borders throughout Latin America to surface long-obscured connections. Kinesthesia: Latin American Kinetic Art, 1954–1969, at the Palm Springs Art Museum, will be the first major exhibition outside of South America to explore the influential work of South American kinetic artists in the 1960s and ‘70s. While kinetic art achieved its greatest cohesion as a movement in Paris, several of its most influential and respected practitioners were from Latin America, including Julio Le Parc from Argentina and Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesús Rafael Soto from Venezuela. What united these geographically dispersed artists was a shared belief that the experience of the viewer was primary, which led them to experiment with dizzying optical and kinetic effects aimed at the “human eye,” rather than the “cultivated eye” of traditional elite audiences. Kinesthesia will put this experimental and experiential approach on display, including many remarkable sculptural installations and kinetic paintings.
The Hammer Museum’s Radical Women in Latin American Art, 1960–1985, is the first comprehensive survey of Latin American women artists during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the region, marked by repressive governments and military dictatorships. It will highlight the extraordinary aesthetic innovation of emblematic figures such as Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Ana Mendieta, but also the contributions of women artists who have not yet had attention outside of their home countries. Discoveries during the research phase led organizers to expand the exhibition’s scope to include the work of some Latina artists.
Other Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA projects are more explicitly focused on cultural connections between Los Angeles and Latin America.How to Read El Pato Pascual: Disney’s Latin America and Latin America’s Disney, a joint exhibition at the MAK Center’s Schindler House in West Hollywood and at the Luckman Gallery at California State University, Los Angeles, will explore the eclectic array of art created in Latin America and the United States in response to the Walt Disney Studio and its pervasive presence south of the border. (Pato Pascual became the name for Donald Duck in Mexico, after the soda company Pascual Boing licensed the image from Disney.) In 1941, Walt Disney and a group of artists, musicians, and screenwriters traveled to South America looking for inspiration and content for The Three Caballeros and other animated features produced as part of the US government’s “Good Neighbor” policy during World War II. How to Read El Pato Pascual will examine how artists not only criticized Disney as a representative of North American imperialism, but also adopted, appropriated, and misappropriated Disney imagery, demonstrating that cultural interactions are always a series of exchanges, responses, and even misunderstandings. Artists from ten countries will be represented in the show. Among them is Colombian sculptor Nadín Ospina, whose sculptures resemble pre-Columbian objects but portray Disney characters in carved stone, gold, and ceramic.
LACMA will also take a cross-cultural approach for Mexico and California Design, 1915–1985, a wide-ranging look at the ongoing dialogue between architects and designers in the two locales and how their interactions shaped the material culture and built environment on both sides of the border in the twenieth century. Similarly, a film series being organized by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, Recuerdos de un cine en español: Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles, 1930–1960, concentrates on films originating in Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba that were presented to Los Angeles audiences during the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” The series will present a virtually lost history of how Los Angeles served as one of the most important hubs in the Western hemisphere for the production, distribution, and exhibition of films made in Spanish for Latin American audiences.
Although most of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions concern modern and contemporary art, a few stretch back before the establishment of California as a state in 1850 to take up earlier topics. Laguna Art Museum’s exhibition Mexico/LA: History into Art, 1820–1930, highlights for the first time the range and vitality of the artistic traditions that grew out of the unique amalgam of Mexican and American culture in California from Mexican Independence in 1821 through the first decades of the twentieth century. The exhibition includes objects created by artist explorers who traveled up and down the Pacific coast when the two countries were one, works by painters and
photographers who disregarded national boundaries in the pursuit of picturesque subject matter, maps from both sides of the border, and artworks by Mexicans in California and Californians in Mexico. The show extends into the early twentieth-century when U.S. and Mexican avant-garde artists pursued a shared interest in representing a distinctly Californian identity.
Visitors will travel even further back in time at the Huntington Art Gallery with Visual Voyages: Images of Latin American Nature from Columbus to Darwin, an expansive, interdisciplinary exploration of indigenous and European depictions of Latin American nature. The exhibition surveys the connections between art, science, and the environment in Latin America, from the voyages of Columbus to the publications of Charles Darwin in the mid-nineteenth century. Through a generous selection of approximately 140 objects from Latin America, Europe, and North America, Visual Voyages bring disparate works into conversation and combine sumptuous paintings and drawings with fascinating historical and scientific material. Artworks range from watercolors and manuscripts to botanical specimens, and other diverse objects.
Public Programming and Education
Film, performing arts, and literature will play an important role in Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. The Library Foundation of Los Angeles, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and Los Angeles Filmforum have all received grants to support public programming that relates to the museum exhibitions that will be on view. Other performing arts projects, including programs from the Music Center and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a Performance and Public Art Festival are in development.
Education is also a priority for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, and the Foundation has been leading a committee of educational experts—including representatives from the Los Angeles Unified School District, the LA Promise Fund, and the education staff of our partner museums—to develop quality programming to engage K–12 teachers, students, and families. These efforts include a teacher resource guide that incorporates content from various LA/LA exhibitions and draws connections with standard curricula. More information will be provided on the education component over the next year as we prepare for the public launch of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA in September 2017.v