Authored By: Azalea Camacho
Publication Date: January 25, 2024
Over 500 visitors attended the eighteenth annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar held by L.A. as Subject on October 28, 2023. Sixty-seven L.A. as Subject members participated as exhibitors and shared their collections and services with the local community. Located at USC's Doheny Library, the 2023 bazaar was centered around food history and culture of Los Angeles. Food was the perfect theme to highlight stories about various local communities and bridges nationalities, geographies, and generations.
The bazaar featured seven public programming events that ran simultaneously throughout the day. The podcast The Hidden History of Los Angeles interviewed a few members of the Executive Committee to share the rich presentations available that day (listen to the podcast here).
The day's programming included interesting panels, talks, workshops, and discussions, which were heavily attended and excitedly commented on by visitors. Here's a summary of the 2023 Archives Bazaar programming:
- Artist and archivist, Suzanne Zoe Joskow presented her ongoing project The Community Cookbook Archive. The archive comprised of over 400 cookbooks that span three centuries and is continuously growing and evolving. Suzanne focused the discussion on the development of her food-based mapping project that highlights Los Angeles stories. She covered community cookbooks that date back to the city's earliest years of book printing and connected it to sites across Los Angeles County. At the end of the presentation, Suzanne provided participants with a take-home recipe card from one of the cookbooks in the archive to try at home.
- Archivist of the A. F. Gilmore Company, Brett Arena, presented the culinary history and influence of the Original Farmers Market over a span of nine decades. The market opened in the summer of 1934 and began with a dozen farmers and six vendors selling produce and other items. The market now features more than 100 vendors and family-owned businesses specializing in areas such as produce, meats, seafood, artisan bread, and a multitude of prepared foods.
- One of the highly attended programs was the “LA Neighborhood Restaurants Grounded in Community and Tradition” panel, which featured Judy Hayashi daughter of Yayoi Watanabe owner of the Otomisan, the only remaining Japanese Restaurant in Boyle Heights and the oldest Japanese-operating restaurant in Los Angeles County founded in 1956; Paulina Lopez, Co-owner of James Beard Award-winning Guelaguetza Restaurant as well as I Love Micheladas; and Chef Keith Corbin, a two-time James Beard Award-nominated executive chef and co-owner of Alta Adams. Speaking to a standing-room only crowd, the panelists engaged in a conversation that was inspirational as they each discussed overcoming adversity and realizing their restaurants while connecting to the rich history of Los Angeles. If you have not visited these restaurants before, they are highly recommended.
- In the spirit of October's spooky season, members of LAPNet presented “A Bibliographic Banquet: How to prevent your collections from becoming a food supply for creepy crawlies” in which participants learned about the types of materials that pests are attracted to, from wood and paper to tortillas and seaweed. They also learned how to identify signs of infestation and steps to prevent further damage to archival collections.
- Another interesting talk was presented by Charles Perry, President of the Culinary Historians of Southern California. His talk revolved around the history of Los Angeles Backyard Barbecue. Charles discussed the ancient Mexican method of cooking barbacoa to grilling steaks in the backyard which was made popular in the 1930s.
- The last session of the day was, “Your Kitchen is a Battleground: Conversation with Harry Gamboa Jr”. The conversation was facilitated by Fanny Daubigny, writer and educator. The discussion revolved around ASCO, a Chicano-based art collective from East Los Angeles. The Chicano artists aimed at deconstructing the traditional hierarchies of what was then considered to be culturally acceptable. In 1974, ASCO staged the controversial performance The First Supper (after a riot), which was organized four years after the Chicano Moratorium, an Anti-Vietnam protest that ended in police brutality.
In addition to these food-themed public programming events, the bazaar featured Basement Tapes throughout the day. Basement Tapes provided playback equipment for participants' vintage audio recordings and shared these sounds with the audience. The bazaar closed the day with a delicious reception catered by the Guelaguetza restaurant, which specializes in Oaxacan cuisine. During the reception Abraham Ferrer, Archives and Distribution Manager at Visual Communications was honored as the 2023 recipient of the Avery Clayton Spirit Award.
As we enter the new year, we look forward to planning next year’s bazaar!
Exhibitor photos by Victoria Bernal