Los Angeles Neighborhoods in Transition: Some Place Chronicles Explore the Past and Present of Unincorporated South LA

Los Angeles Neighborhoods in Transition: Some Place Chronicles Explore the Past and Present of Unincorporated South LA
March 1, Valencia, CA—Only a few miles away from Beverly Hills and Hollywood, the unincorporated towns of South Los Angeles may lack the recognizable identities of the iconic cities to their north. Yet, the enclaves of East Rancho Dominguez, Florence-Firestone, Lennox and Ladera Heights/View Park/Windsor Hills powerfully demonstrate the possibilities and challenges faced by 21st Century urban neighborhoods. For the Some Place Chronicles,

artists and writers from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) were invited by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission to explore the unique character of these lesser-known Los Angeles County neighborhoods.

From gentrification and education to community identity and demographic shifts these communities offer distinctive local examples that reflect pressing national concerns. Reflecting an intensive process of community engagement, the project consists of a series of bilingual books in English and Spanish and linked public events, the Some Place Chronicles profile South LA neighborhoods through the stories of their inhabitants.
The first three books in the series of four launched at the College Art Association on February 22. Books will be free to the public at community centers and branch libraries in each of the featured neighborhoods.
“The goal is to celebrate the special character of these evolving neighborhoods,” said CalArts faculty, Provost Emeritus, and Some Place Chronicles lead artist Jeannene Przyblyski. “Numerous and varied engagements with the people who live and work in these communities, culminated in four unique books, created by four different artists/collectives, each containing explorations, documentation, and testimonies of what has been, and dreams of what might be.”
Some Place Chronicles books include; Przyblyski’s A Paseo Through Time in Florence-Firestone; I’ll Make Me A World by painter, writer, editor, and educator Thomas Lawson in East Rancho Dominguez; photographer, video-maker and educator Harry Gamboa Jr.'s Lennox: Colorful Place to Land; and A Place We Call Home: East of La Cienega and South of Stocker by Sandy Rodriguez and Isabelle Lutterodt, working as the cultural landscape painting/photography collective Studio 74, in Ladera Heights/View Park/Windsor Hills.
The publications will be celebrated at community centers of the featured neighborhoods.  Honoring the many community participants in the project, Przyblyski’s A Paseo Through Time in Florence-Firestone will launch with a book distribution to participants via specially decorated Humvee on March 17, 2018.  This will be followed by a reception for the book’s neighborhood contributors and the general public at the Florence Library, 1610 E. Florence Avenue, from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
The Some Place Chronicles is an example of creative place-making—a practice that brings artists, local residents and business owners, stakeholders, and community partners together to assess the unique physical and social character of a place through creative activities, research, and conversation. As artful as the project might be, the goal is also to ensure that local perspectives and knowledge inform community development initiatives.  A Paseo Through Time in Florence-Firestone has already been consulted in drafting the recent Florence-Firestone Comprehensive Community Plan now under review at the Board of Supervisors.
In spring 2015, CalArts offered a college-level course for undergraduates that explored the people, histories, and cultures of these unincorporated Los Angeles County neighborhoods. Public engagement activities and conversations with residents led by CalArts faculty and alumni artists and students were conducted throughout the summer and fall of that year—and led to the development of the project. Based on substantial input from local residents, community profiles were created for each area as a distinctive artist-authored and designed book.
Some Place Chronicles is a creative placemaking project of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission in partnership with the Temporary Institute for Unincorporated Studies at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and funded by the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.