South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s
Kellie Jones, a 2016 recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant," is Associate Professor of Art History at Columbia University and the author of several books, including EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art, also published by Duke University Press. Jones has curated numerous national and international exhibitions, including Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980 and Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties.
Emerge: Putting Southern California on the Art World Map
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.