Southland museums to collaborate on arts exhibitions

Southland museum leaders have officially unveiled a collaboration that will showcase Southern California's groundbreaking contemporary art movements. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Museum executives and curators from Santa Barbara to San Diego crowded a function room at West Hollywood's venerable Chateau Marmont Hotel. They gathered to announce a series of exhibitions scheduled to open in a year and a half.

The collaboration's called "Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980." Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, says it's going to be big.

Michael Govan: This could be the largest arts festival since the Olympics in Los Angeles. I think it has that potential, because not only do you have so many institutions pouring so many resources together for a common theme, but it's spread across Southern California.

Guzman-Lopez: L.A.'s Getty Foundation awarded almost $3 million in grants to Govan's museum and more than a dozen others. The county museum will showcase Southern California commercial design. Other spaces will exhibit work by established artists such as Ed Ruscha, Judy Chicago, and Robert Irwin.

Other institutions plan to highlight artists who labored outside Southern California's mainstream art world. The California African American Museum is eager to take part, says its executive director Charmaine Jefferson.

Charmaine Jefferson: We're really going to focus our attention on those people and places that made it possible to validate the art of African-Americans between 1945 and 1980.

Guzman-Lopez: ... including muralists, black-owned art galleries, and churches. L.A.'s big museums are taking part. So are cultural centers in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Pomona, and San Diego.

Southern California's been on the art map a long time, series organizers say. But they hope this approaching year of exhibitions will place a big fat exclamation point on the location.