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CITY

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QU AR TZ

Kamau Daaood, Quincy Troupe, K. Curtis Lyle, Emory Evans, andO jenke established a distinctive Watts idiom in fiction and poetry, while Melvin Van Peebles pioneered an alternative Black cinema with his outlaw odyssey, Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song. The Watts Festival, meanwhile, brought cultural cadres together with the community in annual celebrations of unity and rebellion. But the heroic moment of Underground Los Angeles Culture quickly passed. As a local art historian pointed out, ‘the high -flying spirit of the ’60s . . . crashed and burned.’126 The local dearth of jazz clubs and modernist galleries/collectors irresistibly drove part of the late 1950s and early 1960s avant garde (including L.A.’s Artforum magazine) to Manhattan (or, sometimes, in the case of experimental film and poetry, to San Francisco). After a student rebellion in 1966, Disney endowers moved Chouinard Art Institute, reborn as the California Institute of the Arts, to an isolated suburban fringe where their conservative proprietary interests would be maximized. Inner-city cultural institutions, meanwhile, were starved of financial support and media attention. Then, amidst the recession of avantgarde hopes, there were suddenly the seductions of Los Angeles’s own emergent corporate arts nexus. Maurice Tuchman, the curator of the County Museum of Art, ‘conceived [in the late 1960s] the somewhat dubious notion of placing artists with corporate sponsors in a vast Art and Technology program’.127 With the patronage of ‘Missy’ Chandler of the Times dynasty, Tuchman ‘married’ seventy-six artists to forty major local corporations.128 As Peter Plagens notes, the resulting exhibition in 1971 was the ‘swan song of sixties art’ - a programmatic turning-point towards the mercenary, corporatedominated arts dispensation of the late 1970s and 1980s.
The exhibition’s catalogue is not so much the narrative of a completed project, but an interim report on a hoped-for ongoing metamorphosis of modem art, centered in Los Angeles. Its candid and lengthy description/documentation of every attempted collaboration between the museum-matched artists and corporation admits to every artist’s arrogance . . . as well as the easy alignment of artists with hard-core capitalism and war-related industries (while the war in Vietnam was at its height).129

The ‘L.A. Look’, which in the early 1960s suggested the possibility of a critical-artistic strategy that interpreted the city from an indigenous

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