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Los Angeles: A People's History of Skid Row, Paul Revere Williams, and SoCal History

Good afternoon. This week we look at the legacy of one of SoCal's most important architects, a new ar
Aug 26, 2020 • View in browser
Los Angeles
Good afternoon. This week we look at the legacy of one of SoCal’s most important architects, a new archive devoted to Skid Row art and activism, and a must-see upcoming film screening from a young Native American artist.
Elisa Wouk Almino, Senior Editor, Los Angeles

Preserving the Legacy of Paul Revere Williams
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz House, Palm Springs, Paul R. Williams architect, built 1954-55 (photo 1955) (photo by Julius Shulman, Gelatin Silver Print, © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles)
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz House, Palm Springs, Paul R. Williams architect, built 1954-55 (photo 1955) (photo by Julius Shulman, Gelatin Silver Print, © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles)
In addition to being the most prolific Black architect in Southern California, Paul Revere Williams was also known as “the architect to the stars.” He designed homes for the likes of Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Lucille Ball (whose home appears in the image above). Earlier this summer, the Getty Research Institute and the University of Southern California (where Williams studied architectural engineering) announced they they would be acquiring Williams’s archive, which includes thousands of plans, drawings, photos, correspondence, and more.
Lexis-Olivier Ray revisits some of Williams’s key projects, as well as the unique challenges he faced as a Black architect in the mid-20th century:
Williams enjoyed a long and successful career in an industry that catered to whiteness. He often built homes for people in neighborhoods that he couldn’t legally live in. In order to find success in an unwelcoming industry, Williams learned how to draw upside down in front of clients and he kept his hands clasped behind his back when touring construction sites. He was always acutely aware of the role segregation played in his work.

More on Architecture in LA:
The Artists and Activists of Skid Row
Walk the Talk 2012, featuring portrait by Mr. Brainwash (photo by Austin Hines)
Walk the Talk 2012, featuring portrait by Mr. Brainwash (photo by Austin Hines)
Artists and activists have a long history in the Skid Row neighborhood. The nonprofit performance group known as the Los Angeles Poverty Department, or LAPD (a cheeky allusion to the Police Department), has been around since the 1980s. In recent years, the group has drawn attention for its Walk the Talk parade, which celebrates community activists in Skid Row. While they weren’t able to host the parade this year, they have just uploaded an online archive featuring several interviews with Skid Row artists and activists, as well as recordings of past performances.
Hyperallergic editor Natalie Haddad spotlights some of these people, including Skid Row resident Katherine McNenny, who started an initiative to plant trees and gardens in her neighborhood. McNenny notes:
Neighborhoods all across our country which were redlined in the 1930s are now measurably hotter and have about half as many trees on average as nearby predominantly white neighborhoods.

More on Skid Row’s Art Community:
Filmmaking During Quarantine
Fox Maxy, Muzzles Off (still) (image courtesy the artist)
Fox Maxy, Muzzles Off (still) (image courtesy the artist)
Fox Maxy, an Ipai Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum filmmaker, is sharing four of their films this weekend through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). One of the films, San Diego, was made during the COVID-19 quarantine and looks at how tribes in Southern California have tried to continue their traditional gatherings during this challenging time.
Maxy shared some poignant thoughts on filmmaking ahead of the screening and conversation this weekend. They emphasized, “I try my hardest to recognize that filmmaking is just like every other aspect of being alive.”
The DNC and RNC of 1972
Since it’s that time of year, it seems only appropriate to revisit the radical footage of TVTV, the Bay Area collective of 20-somethings who filmed the DNC and RNC of 1972 in a completely new way. The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive has digitized hundreds of hours of raw footage.
In Local News...
Ahree Lee, “Timesheet” from 'Pattern : Code' at the Women's Center for Creative Work
Ahree Lee, “Timesheet” from 'Pattern : Code' at the Women's Center for Creative Work
The beloved Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) officially announced today that the organization will be departing their Glover Place location, which has been their home for the past five years. WCCW will temporarily relocate to a smaller studio space and focus on online programming. The center is hosting a “Socially Distance Glover Goodbye & Give-away” this weekend. Info via the WCCW below:
We’re opening our gates for a few hours on Friday and Saturday for anyone to come by and leave a note, photo, or trinket on a little alter outside. The rivergate will be open to anyone who wants to give thanks to her too.
Socially Distant Glover Goodbye & Give-away
Friday, August 28th, 4-7pm 
Saturday, August 29th, 4-7pm
We’ll also have furniture, office and craft supplies, event supplies, & kitchenware from the space outside for people to take & give a donation if they’d like. (sanitizer & wipes will be on hand)
In memory of WCCW’s Glover Place location, revisit this great exhibition on women’s work, weaving, and computer programming.
From Our Partners at KCET
Puppeteering in a Pandemic: How the Bob Baker Marionette Theater Continues to Spread Joy
Can Theater More Equitably Reflect the World?
Musical Expansions
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