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The Waitresses/Coffee Cauldron, A Restaurant Ritual, May 17, 1980. Photo: The LACE Records, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.

Getty Research Institute Acquires Archive of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) has acquired the archive of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), the longest running contemporary artists’ space in Los Angeles. The LACE Records includes photography, ephemera, artists' correspondences, promotional materials, video documentation of events and performances, and other items from the first four decades of exhibitions and programs at the institution. Future documents of the active contemporary art site will also be added to the institute’s collection.

“We are particularly pleased to preserve and study an archive of this caliber from a landmark Los Angeles institution,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the GRI. Glenn Phillips, curator and head of modern and contemporary art at the institute, added: “It would be difficult to exaggerate LACE’s importance in the development of experimental and advanced art in Los Angeles from the late 70s through the mid-90s and their continued role in bringing new, experimental art to the fore. Because the archive features so many important contemporary artists from Los Angeles and beyond, the material connects to and bolsters the GRI’s already rich holdings of experimental twentieth-century artists, including feminist performance groups.”

The LACE Records includes materials from the organization’s early days in downtown Los Angeles to its more recent years at its current home in Hollywood, as it evolved with the alternative art scene in Southern California. The space was an early champion of video and performance art, and it supported the early work of many artists who have gone on to achieve wider recognition, such as ASCO, Mike Kelley, Suzanne Lacy, Paul McCarthy, Rachel Rosenthal, Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, and Rafa Esparza, among others. It has also served as a major advocate for its community and for social causes. Since it was founded in El Monte in 1976, LACE has presented the work of more than five thousand artists.

LACE first opened as a community gallery by Sarah Parker, who was the first gallery manager; Bill Fisher; Robert Gil de Montes; Harry Gamboa Jr.; Gronk; Richard Hyland; Joe Janusz; Marlyn Kemppanien; Ron Reeder; Alexander Sauer; Barry Scharf; David Scharf; and Nancy Youdelman. In January 1978, it relocated to Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Because the gallery was in the bridal shop district, the name LACE served as both an acronym and an allusion to the neighborhood trade. In 1986, the gallery moved from the bridal district to Industrial Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, and in 1994, it settled into its current location on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

“It is part of our practice as an independent and progressive exhibition space to support investigation and inquiry by artists and scholars and that is why it is so meaningful to us to have our archive at the Getty Research Institute,” said Sarah Russin, the executive director of LACE. “As we continue to push the boundaries, it’s so encouraging to know that the artists we have championed through the years will be represented at the GRI and that our work will be available for study.”

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