Many years ago, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp hired me for my first teaching position, women’s studies, at what was then know as Otis-Parson’s.* Ink barely dry on my master’s degree, I popped into the interesting but completely different world of an art college. Hunter also asked me to give my first public talk on feminist art, a panel about the “Bad Girls West” exhibition at the Wight Art Gallery, at UCLA.

Drohojowska-Philp has just published a book on the L.A. art scene, Rebels in Paradise, that covers the years just preceding those about which I’m writing in my new book, The Politics of Women’s Culture.   In it, she makes arguments that fit nicely with those I’m making as well, that LA needs to be taken seriously. In her case, as in a host of recent exhibitions, the focus is on repositing modern art as coming as much out of LA as it did out of NY.

The review in the NYT today was instructive in terms of thinking about my own project. Holland Cotter notes that Drohojowska-Philp’s work is “lopsided” as it attempts only to situate LA in relationship to NY. Specifically, he argues that her work completely ignores the emergence of “ethnic” art in LA during this period, which was important for both the Black Arts Movement ( post here) and the chicano arts movement (see post here).  While I don’t think I’m falling into the latter problem, I need to think about this “lopsided” issue.

I’ve already written an article about the proliferation of the feminist art movement across the United States, and am currently editing a special issue of Frontiers on the Feminist Art Movement Beyond NY/LA, but the art world itself is so obsessed with NY that it is easy to get sucked back into that framework.

* now Otis College of Art and Design, and site of the upcoming exhibition Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building

REBELS IN PARADISE
The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s
By Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
Illustrated. 263 pp. A John Macrae Book/Henry Holt & Company. $32.50

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