Reactor

Getty Launches Pacific Standard Time Archive (Plus Advice for Artists Needing $$)

by Carren Jao on April 17, 2012

Announcement for “Raffle,” a Tap City Circus raffle in Los Angeles, June 6, 1965. Designed by George Herms. Letterpress, woodblock, rubber stamping, and tinted gelatin silver print. The Getty Research Institute, Gift of Rolf G. Nelson, 2010.M.38.4. (image courtesy Pacific Standard Time online archive)

LOS ANGELES — Pacific Standard Time, Los Angeles’ citywide celebration of its role in the development of arts may be over, but it the Getty will not let it be forgotten. It has launched a comprehensive Pacific Standard Time at the Getty Center archive online for art-lovers slash internet-junkies.  Me included.

Some of the treasures online include this Womanhouse installation in Los Angeles, featuring Robin Weltsch’s Kitchen and Vicki Hodgetts’s Eggs to Breasts (Sponsored by Feminist Art Program at CalArts) (1972) (via getty.edu)

Unlike exhibitions that open for months at a time, then close up shop to be buried in the archive again, the Getty has done a great job of preserving many of the stories of California artist working in and around the city during those seminal decades. The site allows for various search methods: by exhibition, style, artist name, material, location and time period. For the more visually inclined, they’ve even embedded a handy map showing where all the hotspots actually were in those days. (Sadly, it seems nothing ever happens in the Valley, my part of town).

Those patiently clicking around can see and hear artists talk about their work, but also stumble upon some humorously wise ideas like the Tap City Circuses held by George Herms in his home in Topanga Canyon. Without the help of the NYFA guide to making art profitable, Herms staged these events to get funds whenever he was short on moolah. Sound familiar?

So that's where all the action was happening in LA in the post-WWII period.

Prizes included artworks, books of poetry or a chance to squirt Herms with a hose. “It was a minor love-in,” says Herms in an interview. The events were social gatherings full of fun, with a sheen of economic desperation.” Herms created specialized letterpress invitations that poked fun at his current economic strait, such as “Roofle,” so titled because Herms had no money to repair a hole on his roof.  “Chapter 8 of how to live by your wits,” says Herms. “You have know how to throw a raffle.” Herms has got the formula down — people will fork over cash for the sake of fun. So here’s some advice for artists of any decade:  Be it a party, happening or spectacle, show those folks a wallet-meltingly good time.

Listen to the rest of Herms’s interview here.

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