Since their flourishing in the mid 1970s, alternative art spaces have had an illustrious history—from the championing of new media and performance, which were outside the purview of commercial galleries, to the role they played in identifying and supporting artists that defined the 1980s, to their reconceptualization by a new generation of artists and curators in the early part of the 21st century. Join us for this conversation with Dorit Cypis, Joy Silverman, Bob Smith, and LAXART director Hamza Walker to discuss the changing cultural and socio-political landscape undergirding the role of alternative spaces over the past forty years.
Dorit Cypis is an artist, educator, and mediator. Her work, which explores themes of history, identity, and social relations, has been presented in diverse cultural contexts across the US and internationally since the 1980s. Over the past decade Dorit worked with many cultural, civic and educational organizations as a Trainer, Communications Consultant and Dialogue Facilitator. Cypis’ artwork has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, ICA/Boston, the International Center of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, among many other venues.
Joy Silverman has been presenting and producing cultural programs for over thirty-five years. She was Director of Programs and Special Events for the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, DC; the first Executive Director of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); founder of OnrampArts; and Co-Founder and Director of the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression (NCFE). During the height of the art censorship wars in the U.S., she produced two videotapes which were broadcast and used for political organizing: "National Arts Emergency" and "State of the Art: Art of the State?” She has served on numerous grant-making and exhibition selection panels in addition to continuing to work as a consultant to non-profit organizations and independent philanthropies. She is a Board member of the Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW).
In 1973, Bob Smith founded the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, which sponsored exhibitions, published a magazine “Journal”, and other programs as an “alternative space”. In 1978 he organized the first conference of alternative visual arts organizations “The New Artsspace”. As Director he secured many successful grants from public and private sources. He received many awards or the design of catalogs and was a fellow of the Deutscher Akademischer Austausdienst in Berlin in 1982. He retired as director of LAICA in 1986. Bob is now retired and lives in Fillmore with his wife, six dogs, two draft horses, three geese and four ducks.
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