Pacific Standard Time - Getty Foundation Initiative on Southern California Art
Pacific Standard Time (PST): Art in LA 1945-1980, a multi-venue Los Angeles art exhibition, looked back at, defined and documented LA (and adjacent cities) post-war art as it emerged onto the international art scene; PST, focusing on the people who made this movement happen and on the works they produced. PST ran from the fall of 2011 through early spring 2012.
Pacific Standard Time simultaneously became a genre all its own, a seminal moment that one day may be as significant and legendary as the New York Armory show of 1913.
Getty Foundation Initiative
Pacific Standard Time, a collaboration of 100-plus museums and galleries, was initiated by the Getty Foundation to feature art of the post-war period. This initiative was established through grants of nearly $10 million and coordinated with the Getty Research Institute. With participating art venues from San Diego to Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, east to Riverside and Palm Springs, PST represents a vast array of art styles under one movement.
Pacific Standard Time emphasized that the genesis and development of Los Angeles as a major art capital occurred in the decades following World War II. Life-changing events included the advent of the counterculture revolution, the opening of several emerging art schools here, and the development of the aerospace industry. The latter helped draw attention to this area, while providing artists with a variety of techniques and materials, including malleable plastics and acrylic resin/polymer emulsion paint that many (particularly California Light and Space artists) incorporated into their works. PST is a narrative of that great change.
LA - An Art Capital
Consequently, Los Angeles (and surrounding environs) has become today an art capital, as important as New York, Berlin and London. The area has many significant museums, including the $130,000,000 Eli Broad Museum under construction. There are excellent art schools, and an active coterie of artists from those in their twenties to veterans of early LA art movements, now in their eighties.
Responding to the Getty initiative, many dozen public and private art venues have researched the works of numerous artists, art forms and styles, creating exhibitions that individually and altogether define this comprehensive period; this research is documented in about 40 catalogs.
Pacific Standard Time exhibitions featured: particular styles of art; specific artists and movements. Each participating institution makes its own contribution to this story of artistic innovation and social change, told through numerous displays and programs. PST encompasses L.A. Pop to postminimalism; modernist architecture and design to multi-media installations; the films of the African American L.A. Rebellion to the feminist activities of the Woman’s Building; ceramics to Chicano performance art; and Japanese American design to the pioneering work of artists’ collectives.
PST exhibitions demonstrated that many artists working during this PST period experimented with their art in supportive settings, often unfettered by academic or commercial pressures. The result is artwork of varied styles, medias and disciplines, most with honesty, integrity and depth of subject matter.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Chief Curator Paul Schimmel, who organized its Pacific Standard Time exhibition [Under the Big Black Sun], wrote in the show's catalog, "It was an 'in-between' time when diversity and experimentation were the rule of the day, as some scrambled to find the next 'important' trend while others took advantage of boundaries coming down to forge connections between previously distinct realms of practice, such as photography and conceptual art, or media critique and performance art...
"California had a special role to play as artists began to question seriously the assumptions of modernism - with its obvious connections to the similarly authoritative moral, political, and social institutions that were crumbling all around as well as the primacy of New York in determining what was art-historically valid."
Pacific Standard Time was a heady time for art lovers. It was an opportunity to learn about the emergence of Los Angeles as a major art center, its concurrent influence on the development of art nationwide, and about this art capital's increasing worldwide recognition, while enjoying works of many different styles and media.
Asco: Elite of the Obscure was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of Pacific Standard Time exhibition. Here is part of my review.
"Asco," the Spanish word for nausea, was also the name of a performance/conceptual art group, whose members lived in and performed in East Los Angeles from 1972 to 1987. Asco also connotes the revulsion felt by the four principles, Gronk, Willie F. Herron III, Harry Gamboa, Jr. and Patssi Valdez (the only female) for the condition of the Mexican American community and for political events, including the Vietnam War and the disproportionate number of Mexican Americans who were drafted and shipped to Southeast Asia.
They expressed their art in still photography, video, painting, sculpture and numerous street performances, many with elaborate plans and costumes. [Asco: Elite of the Obscure] was a resourceful, proactive group that often dressed up glamorously; yet with scant funds, they created costumes from thrift shop finds and throwaway materials. Because of the group's lack of engagement with the larger L.A. arts community, they worked in relative obscurity, achieving only sporadic recognition at the time (much of that recognition was international). The current exhibition provides a much deserved correction.
On November 1, 2012, a study by Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation announced, "PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: ART IN L.A. 1945-1980 SPURRED THE ECONOMY BY MORE THAN $280 MILLION AND UPPORTED ALMOST 2,500 JOBS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. "Pacific Standard Time solidified Los Angeles' place in art history and celebrated the region’s artistic contributions to society. But it provided Angelenos more tangible benefits as well, through creating jobs, driving tourism to the region and increasing the economic activity that generates revenue to fund public services."
(See Contemporary Art Dialogue Sitemap for complete listing of pages on contemporary and modern art movements, styles, trends and artists.)Back to top