Since 1965, greater Los Angeles has been one of America’s reigning destinations for immigrants; by 2000, more foreign-born people were choosing to settle there than in any other region. Raw numbers and unique forms of migratory aspiration, risk, and synthesis allowed SoCal to capture that era’s predicaments and possibilities in ways other metropolises didn’t.
Kellie Jones’s fluid, unexpected study, South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s (Duke University Press), considers that story from the standpoint of one very particular set of migrants: African American artists. The city of Los Angeles’s black population is currently shrinking, but in the past century a daring creative community flourished south of Pico Boulevard, fed by great waves of arrivals pegged to the World Wars. That cohortwhose members include Charles White, Betye Saar, Noah
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