Siqueiros in Los Angeles and His Collaborations with the California Art Club

18 thoughts on “Siqueiros in Los Angeles and His Collaborations with the California Art Club”

  1. I have read your comments and would like to compliment you on your research on Siqueiros murals in LA. Just wanted to give you further information regarding the “discovery” of Chouinard mural, Street Meeting. Many people knew the Street Meeting wasn’t really destroyed apparently but rather painted over probably avoid controversy. Don Graham who helped in that project along with other Chouinard faculty continued to teach at Chouinard two studios south of where the mural is located. But he never said a word about it during all the years that I had been affiliated with the school both as student (1952-53, 1958-61) and as a teacher (1965-72). Don in fact was the Dean of Faculty during all those years and de facto head of the school as your research probably indicates.
    I was one of the board members of Chouinard Foundation (a complicated story in its own right and which was covered in part by the LA Times staff writer at the time of the Calendar section. We were having a meeting on our school facility on South Mission in South Pasadena when Luis Garza and Jose Luis Sedano dropped in with a book to ask us about Chouinard School of Art. They were doing research on Siqueiros murals in LA and in the process of organizing a show on Siqueiros. While driving down Mission to get to the center where the show was being organized they saw our sign, Chouinard School of Art. Flipping through the book they showed us a photograph of bunch of people working working on the Street Meeting mural at the Chouinard building. When I saw the photograph I knew exactly where that was as any Chouinardians would. I taught for several years at a studio right next to it. I told Jose and Luis I would be happy to show where that is and made arrangement to meet with them to go down to investigate to see if it’s still there the following week. After Luis and Jose left I asked Dave Tourje (one of the founders of the Chouinard Foundation) if he would like to go see it that afternoon and he said yes. We met Rev. Kim, who runs the Presbyterian Church there and he was more than happy to have us check for the mural. When we got to the place where the mural would be, we noticed that there was a covering on the walls, the entire wall had been covered over with paint several times over. Dave got a small pocket knife out and scratched on the surface, there was bright orange color underneath. When we got to the top part, we could see the outline of the mural exactly as the photograph in that book Luis and Jose indicated. Next week a group of us went to see the “mural” icluding an art writer for the LA Times. Subseqently, Dave hired a group of conservators from Getty, headed by Leslie who checked over the mural for a whole day. Dave and I saw Leslie at the reception for the building of platform for the Paradiso mural a few nights ago at the LA public library downtown and she told us that the mural while damaged badly are substantially still there especially above the roof level when that section was modified to create a Costume Design studio in the 1940s (?), possibly by Neutra who taught there. – Nob Hadeishi

    1. Hi, thanks for your insightful comments, great to hear the history from someone who was right there in the thick of it! I did include updates at the end of the article on both “America Tropical” and “Street Meeting” at Chouinard, based on some of the recent articles from the L.A. Times. I didn’t know Neutra taught at Chouinard. Do you recall anything about the fate of the Siqueiros mural painted at the Hollywood John Reed Club? I found a few references to it in my research, but most books out there on Siqueiros cite only three murals of his in L.A.

  2. Hey Eric…
    Great work…always like to see what your up to…cheers! Jeff tells me that their is a marriage in the works. Gongratulations!
    Also loved seeing your graphic wood sculpture of Jeff…so good! :)
    Hope to see you sometime when I am back in the States…
    all the best,
    Ryan

  3. Ryan! I’ve been wondering what you’ve been up to, heard through the grapevine you’re painting in France! Oh, I’d love to go back there. How has painting been going? Let me know when you’re back in L.A., we’ll have to get together –

  4. Interesting article. You might be interested in the section on Los Angeles in my essay, “Double Consciousness in Mexico: How Philip Guston and Reuben Kadish Came to Paint a Morelian Mural,” American Art, Spring 2007, 74-97 in which I illustrate a mural Guston and Kadish painted (with Sanford Pollock, later McCoy, Jackson Pollock’s brother) for the Workers’ Alliance Center in Los Angeles in 1934 (later destroyed) based in part on Siqueiros’s Hollywood John Reed Club auditorium mural. DAS plays an important role in this essay. I found installation shots of the Alliance Center mural in Kadish’s Papers in the Archives of American Art and also images from the proposed 1933 Reed Club exhibition Negro America that were famously destroyed by the LAPD Red Squad. You should be able to get access to this article online, but, if not, contact me and I can send it to you in pdf form.

    1. Hi Ellen, thanks, sounds interesting! I’ll see if I can track a copy down. I suppose this might be explained in the article, but have you discovered anything further about the Siqueiros/John Reed mural? Doesn’t seem like it would have survived.

      1. Yes, it must certainly have been destroyed. James Oles in his dissertation “Walls to Paint on: American Muralists in MX, 1933-1936 (Yale, 1995) quotes Kadish as saying he remembered images of the Klan in DAS’s John Reed Club auditorium mural. RK might have made some other comments on it as well. RK’s archive did not include images of that mural, only the Workers Alliance Center mural he made with Guston.

  5. Eric,
    Thank you for your detailed article which adds much clarity to the Siqueiros legacy. As Nob points out, “Street Meeting” was apparently known about by a few early on. Gary Wong, a Chouinard Foundation Advisor and former student, recalls Man Ray speaking about it at an informal lecture on the Chouinard patio. Herb Jepson, who taught at Chouinard is quoted in a recording available at the UCLA archives, stating in 1951 that the mural was there, hoping it would be brought to light. Our “discovery” was the last on the chain, but the one that illuminated it’s presence with certainty. Unfortunately, the likelihood of restoration is very much in doubt, at best, at this time. We are hopeful that one day the right combination of art activism and financial investment will come together to bring the
    wall to light, which Siqueiros himself said in the Philip Stein book, that he broke the 1,000 year tradition of interior fresco painting on. Something of this magnitude deserves to be available to the public. Other good references adding to the LA Times/Suzanne Muchnic article are an Emmy nominated KCET “Life and Times” piece, as well as a Proceso Magazine article which was extremely detailed. Thanks again for helping keep the idea alive.

  6. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for visiting! Glad you liked it. It’s a fascinating story, and I hope I had a little bit of new info to add to the story. Thanks for the additional info. I think I mentioned it at the top, but there will be an exhibit on Siqueiros at the Autry this September.

    1. Ok Eric. Definitely can”t wait for that show. I hear I may be on some panel discussions – will let you know. Cheers!

  7. Eric,
    Great piece. Keep up the great work. You may be interested to know that Josef Von Sternberg and Dudley Murphy were also both major clients of Richard Neutra. Murphy commissioned him to design the Holiday House Motel in Malibu (now converted into condominiums and altered beyond recognition) and Von Sternberg commissioned him for his iconic house in Northridge later bought by Ayn Rand (now destroyed)(See Thomas S. Hines, “Richard Neutra: rediscovering the architect’s vision for Josef von Sternberg”,Architectural Digest, July, 2001, pp. 156-163). Neutra published the Holiday House in over 50 publications over the years while the Von Sternberg Residence has been published over 100 times. A minor correction to report, Jake Zeitlin’s Book Store at 567 S. Hope was not designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (see the definitive “The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog” by Storer). He moved into his second location around the corner at 705 1/2 W. Sixth St. in 1929. He moved into his larger third location at 614 W. 6th St. in December, 1934 which was designed by his Frank Lloyd Wrigh’s son, FLW, Jr., aka Lloyd Wright, who also a noted modernist architect in his own right. (See “Naturally Modern” by Victoria Dailey in “L.A.’s Early Moderns”, pp. 46-47). I love how your blog is organized. Would you be willing to share the clever waay in which you create the linkss to your footnotes? Very impressive. All thee best. I touch on Zeitlin and his circle in my blog post “Touring Topics / Westways: The Phil Townsend Hanna Years” at http://so-cal-arch-history.com/archives/652 All the best.

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for visiting and the additional comments. I didn’t know those details about Neutra, but do have that book so I’ll take a look. Interesting. Thanks for the correction – I think I found the info in an obituary on Zeitlin, but it’s easy to see where the mistake could have occurred.

      About the code, I’m not exactly sure (they look like your basic hyperlinks). They occur automatically when pasting a file with footnotes, but the links don’t seem to do much at least on my end.
      Eric

  8. here’s some interesting heresay regarding Neutra/Siqueiros. It was mentioned to me by several Chouinard people that the structure built that now divides “Street Meeting” in half was designed by Neutra while he taught at Chouinard – likely impossible to verify.

  9. Eric

    There is a great article “Plaza Art Center to Open” in the Aug 16, 1931 issue of the L.A. Times which describes in detail the conversion of the old second floor Italian Hall into exhibition space and verifies the sentence before not 60 in your text. It also discusses the decoration of the upstairs lobby by erstwhile Orozco and Rivera assistant Jorge Juan Crespo and the design for remodeling the first floor shops and the “Embassy Restaurant” by former Neutra partner R. M. Schindler. The initial show in the new space was of contemporary Mexican paintings under the auspices of the Mexican Consulate. The show included the works of Siqueiros, Rivera, Orozco and others. (“Mexican Artists’ Work Put on Display”, L.A. Times,Sep 2, 1931.

    The second exhibition was organized by Pauline Schindler for October, 1931 and included the work of her ex-husband R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, J. R. Davidson, Kem Weber (noted furniture designer for Barker Brothers and designer of modern interiors), Jock Peters (interiors for Bullock’s Wilshire) and others. (See “Roundabout the Galleries: Contemporary Architecture, Decoration and Store Design”, L.A. Times, Oct. 11, 1931). This is quite a rich story indeed.

    John

  10. Eric
    I think that you have an interesting paper and investigation, but there are some words in spanish which are not properly written. Martínez for example, is writen Martinez in here.
    Of course is a constructive observation only.
    It’s obvious the presence of a respectable amount of researching work.
    Gina

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