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Chapter 1 looks at the groundbreaking art of Betye Saar, Charles White, and Melvin Edwards. Of interest is how their presence, activism, and artwork were catalytic forces in creating an art scene in Los Angeles and for African American artists from the late 1950s into the 1960s. Charles White was the most widely known (both nationally and internationally) of the three, though his classic figurative style took a while to gain a foothold on the West Coast. Melvin Edwards’s early career evinced the most conventional success, including exhibitions at important southern California museums in the early 1960s, with his large-scale welded steel sculpture. Through Betye Saar we consider the large local group show as well as the role of printmaking as tactics to craft success for women artists.

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