As Black History Month comes to a close next week, we wanted to take a moment to recognize the many organizations that encourage and promote the work of African American artists and designers in our community throughout the year. Some of the most notable include:
The California African American Museum (CAAM) is located at the “crossroads of the Los Angeles community,” alongside the California Science Center, Natural History Museum, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena in Downtown Los Angeles’ Exposition Park. The California African American Museum researches, collects, preserves and interprets for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans.
Located inside a fully operational Macy’s store at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, The Museum of African American Art is believed to be the only museum of its kind in the nation. The Museum is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of art by or about people of African descent and their contributions to world culture. (Macy’s. Who knew?)
Watts Towers Arts Center, located in the heart of Los Angeles’ Watts community, is the curator of the Watts Towers structure, consisting of seventeen major, historic sculptures. The Watts Towers Arts Center provides diverse cultural enrichment programming through tours of the Towers, lectures, changing exhibitions, and studio workshops for both teachers and students. [Art Center has close affinity for the Watts community, having recently collaborated on the Watts Art? project under the aegis of our Designmatters and Fine Art programs.]
Beyond these major cultural organizations, there are a number of smaller gallery and exhibition spaces throughout Los Angeles, which highlight and champion African American artists and designers. One such example is the Tilford Art Group (T.A.G.), which is devoted to promoting the emerging artist from the United States and abroad, while providing a sacred space for artistic discussion, education and celebration. In doing so, T.A.G. endeavors to continuously recognize the Master artist, particularly those of the African Diaspora and Latin America, from whom many of the young and emerging artists have drawn their inspiration.
Los Angeles is also home to The Pan African Art and Film Festival, which is considered America’s largest and most prestigious Black arts and film festival. The festival presents and showcases the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience in an effort to foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles.
Closer to home, the Jackie Robinson Center in Pasadena, which organizes the City’s Black History Parade and Festival, is a multipurpose social service delivery center that provides assistance to a culturally, economically, and socially diverse population in the Northwest area of Pasadena. In addition to a number of health and wellness services, the center offers educational programs and recreational and cultural activities throughout the year.
In the words of Golden Globe Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, “Black history is American history” and we’re fortunate to live in a region wherein the art and culture of African Americans is a constant presence.