New York City might have been the epicenter of the twentieth century American art scene, but Los Angeles was no slouch either, writes Kellie Jones
in South of Pico: African American Artists in the 1960s and 1970s
(Duke University Press, 2017). Dr. Jones, Professor of Art History at Columbia University and 2016 MacArthur Fellow, examines several African American artists and their work including Bettye Saar, Charles White, and John Outterbridge, and emphasizes the importance of migration, space, and interconnectivity in the LA art scene of mid-century. Watts, the site of a 1965 rebellion, was one particularly salient and vibrant part of the city’s African American art community. These artists used diverse media including performance and assemblage to comment on post-war American politics and society. The book appeals to experts and non-experts alike and is a strong example of how understanding art can help us to understand social movements and the interconnectivity of our world.
Stephen Hausmann is a doctoral candidate at Temple University and Visiting Instructor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently writing his dissertation, a history of race and the environment in the Black Hills and surrounding northern plains region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.