Ceeje Revisited: Introduction

by Faith Flam

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery
April 10- May 13, 1984
Foreword and Acknowledgment

It is generally acknowledged that the decade of the 1960’s was a pivotal and particularly fertile field for contemporary art in Los Angeles. A singular aesthetic began to be associated with this regionally produced art which ultimately became known as the “L.A. Look.” The works utilized industrial materials such as metal, plastics and glass. They were lean, cool and extremely well crafted. This led to another euphemism otherwise known as the “Finish Fetish.”

The art produced here in Los Angeles during the Sixties was not only innovative, it was richly diverse and ultimately far reaching. In his book, Summer Muse, Peter Plagens states that during this time Los Angeles “established itself as the second city of American Art.” In 1981 when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art put on exhibit “Seventeen Artists in the Sixties,” director Earl Powell said, “To date, this most fascinating period in our history remains inadequately documented.” I couldn’t agree with him more! This is precisely the raison d’etre for the exhibit, “Ceeje Revisited.”

From their earliest art producing moments the Ceeje artists seemed to be marching to different drummers, while their brushes were most certainly painting different strokes. If there has been a lack of support for figurative painting over the last twenty years or so, until the emergence of “New Wave,” “Neo-Expressionism,” “New Figuration,” “Bad Painting,” “Punk Art,” etc., consider the neglect of those artists who were working in a highly personal, eccentric, irreverent, somewhat surreal, deliberately awkward and dynamic figurative style when abstract styles were considered au courant and mainstream.

Thus with this exhibition, the artists of the Ceeje add another thread woven into the colorful and intricate tapestry of L.A. contemporary art history.

The works selected for the exhibition belong to artists who on the whole showed at Ceeje on a consistent basis. It is impossible in any one exhibition to do justice to the activities of a gallery which functioned for an entire decade. The choices therefore focused on the artists whose work encompassed the predominant thrust of the gallery’s direction and the point of view it espoused. There were a great many other artists whose association with the gallery was of a more marginal nature. Selections also depended on availability of works from the period.

I am deeply grateful to the exhibiting artists, to Susan C. Larsen and Fidel Danieli for their insightful essays, to the lenders of the exhibition, to the supporters of this exhibition, to the supporters of this catalogue, to Jerry Jerome and Cecil Hedrick for their good humor and support, and finally to Josine Ianco-Starrels who made this exhibition possible.

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