Peace Press was a Los Angeles print collective founded by members of The Resistance when no print shops would print their materials opposing the Viet Nam War or the draft. The Peace Press collective printed for many of the leading progressive groups of the time, including the Alliance for Survival, American Indian Movement, Angela Davis Defense Committee, Ash Grove, Black Panther Party, United Farm Workers, and the Women's Building. To Pacific Standard Times' goal of documenting the rarely acknowledged innovations of the postwar Los Angeles art scene, Peace Press Graphics adds the protest poster, one of the primary-but least documented-art forms of the times. This exhibition also reveals the importance of Los Angeles as a center of political activism.
The Getty Foundation in Los Angeles has awarded a grant to the University Art Museum at CSULB as part of its regional initiative, Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, the largest collaborative art project ever undertaken in Southern California.
The UAM, in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), will mount Peace Press Graphics 1967-1987: Art in the Pursuit of Social Change, a survey of the press' work and their connections to artist collectives of the time. Founded in 1967 by a unique group of L.A. activist-artists who created an "alternate everything" printing and publishing business, the Peace Press (1967-1987) emerged from the tangle of progressive political and alternative groups that flourished during the decades between 1960 and 1990.
The poster archive, now housed at the CSPG in Los Angeles, exemplifies an important element of visual and cultural history: art that reflects the desire and intention to create social and political change, as well as artists who attempt to affect change through both their work and their actions.
The exhibition is co-curated by UAM Associate Director Ilee Kaplan and Executive Director of the CSPG Carol Wells, and will feature over 100 posters from the press' archive and private collections. The posters address issues such as feminism, workers' rights, civil liberties, anti-nuclear protests, environmental concerns, and anti-war demonstrations by artists who worked with the press, including Robert Crumb, Rupert Garcia, Harry Fonseca, Sheila Levrant de Brettville, and Skip Williamson. In addition, a historical timeline, poetry and spoken word performances, film clips interspersed in the galleries, and a separate film screening series will accompany the artworks to offer audiences a unique opportunity to understand the art of political protest within its larger cultural milieu.
Pacific Standard Time is an unprecedented collaboration of more than fifty cultural institutions across Southern California, which are coming together to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Initiated through grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time will take place for six months beginning October 2011.