Indigenous futurism. Narrative medicine. Cyberpunk and digital dystopias. Soil contamination. Environmentally sustainable mega-cities.
These and other topics will be explored in “Pacific Standard Time: Art x Science x L.A.” in 2024. The Getty Foundation announced Wednesday the 45 Southern California cultural and educational institutions that will collectively receive more than $5 million in exhibition research grants. “Pacific Standard Time: Art x Science x L.A.” will include dozens of concurrent exhibitions as well as performances, publications and other programming, all exploring the intersection of art and science.
The funding comes at a critical time when most of these cultural institutions have been closed for 10 months, resulting in unprecedented financial challenges. In November, the American Alliance of Museums released a survey reporting that nearly a third of museums in the U.S. were concerned about permanent closure within 12 months should they not receive additional financial relief.
“It feels like a very important moment to us,” Getty Foundation Director Joan Weinstein said. “Being part of PST is also being part of a community. And in this current crisis we’re not going to have a resilient community without this network of museums, large and small, working together.”
César García-Alvarez, director of the Central-Alameda art space the Mistake Room, said in Wednesday’s announcement that the Getty’s pandemic-era support “allows institutions like ours to take on major projects that not only encourage us to think big but also gift us opportunities to build meaningful community partnerships for the future.”
The grant recipient projects sound both far reaching and specific to our time, exploring sci-fi-like ideas about artificial intelligence, space exploration and biomedical technologies along with more urgent issues such as social justice, climate crises and global health and medicine.
Boyle Heights-based Self-Help Graphics & Art received $110,000 for “Sinks: Places We Call Home,” exploring how industrial waste and soil contamination affect communities of color. Artists Beatriz Jaramillo and Maru Garcia will deep-dive into the local landscape, working with Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County scientists and Self-Help Graphics to investigate the effects of practices at nearby manufacturing sites. The project will include community participation and virtual reality elements.
Also exploring pollution, climate crisis and environmental justice: the Hammer Museum in Westwood received $215,000 for “Breath(e): Towards Climate and Social Justice.” The museum will bring together contemporary artists and activists along with scientists, architects and designers to probe the effects of pollution and other environmental issues on underserved communities who have been subject to various forms of discrimination. It also explores proposed solutions for saving our planet.
Most people know George Washington Carver as an agricultural scientist. Fewer know that he was also an artist who created weavings and still-life paintings using sustainable materials from the Earth such as dyes and paints made from clay and peanuts. The intersection of Carver’s science and art — and its effect on contemporary artists — is the subject of the Exposition Park-based California African American Museum’s exhibition, “World Without End: The George Washington Carver Project,” for which the museum received $120,000.
How to squeeze the world’s population into one, super-dense megalopolis in order to regenerate the globe’s natural resources? That’s the topic of the Southern California Institute of Architecture’s “Planet City,” which received $100,000. The downtown L.A. school will present the work of artists, futurists and scholars and will showcase a model of its futuristic city as well as an interactive video game transporting visitors there.
It’s no surprise, in the midst of a pandemic, that the Mistake Room is mulling ideas about global health and medicine. It received $110,000 for “Bodies, No Longer Ours,” which will present more than a dozen international artists exploring the world of narrative medicine and how visual art can be used to explore and better understand illness and healing.
The Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park received $175,000 for two exhibitions. “Out of Site: Survey Science and the Hidden West” questions the relationship between visual imaging technologies and the Western lands they illuminate or erase. “Indigenous Futures, or How to Survive and Thrive After the Apocalypse” presents artworks that reflect a commingling of science fiction and Native cultures. It aims to challenge historical myths from films such as “Star Wars” and “Avatar” while “assessing the very real impact of colonization, including environmental degradation and toxic stereotypes.”
The USC Libraries’ ONE Archives will present “Sexual Science and the Imagi-nation,” for which it received $100,000. The exhibition will present illustrated magazines, paintings, drawings and costumes from the genres of science fiction fandom and the occult, from the late ’30s through the ’50s, exploring their importance to American LGBTQ history.
This being Los Angeles, the influence of science on cinema was not overlooked: The Mid-Wilshire Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is planning a Sept. 30 opening, received $200,000 for two exhibitions. One will explore filmmakers’ experiments with color — particularly innovations made by women — in both the silent film era and the late 20th to early 21st centuries. The other presents storyboards, costumes and immersive digital components to plumb the history and influence of cyberpunk, a sci-fi subgenre, on film from the ’80s to today.
George Lucas’ $1 billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which aims to complete construction of its Exposition Park building this year, received $100,000 for an exhibition that explores how art, including TV and film, comic books and avant-garde painting, has shaped our understanding of human evolution from 1850 to the present.
That such a well-funded museum would apply for a grant was not a consideration for the Getty, Weinstein said.
“We’re trying to fund all the good projects, period,” she said. “And I think the Lucas Museum will be important. It’s about bringing them into the PST community and working with others, especially the small museums.”
The Getty will announce a second round of grants in about two years to support the logistical execution of PST exhibitions and programming.
The newest PST, Weinstein said, “offers a really unique opportunity to take up some really urgent scientific issues that intersect in so many ways with social issues. And doing it through the lens of art gives us new possibilities for imagining different solutions.
“Plus, it’s such a great SoCal topic because of the history of science in this region. The museums really seized the topics and made it their own.”
Here’s the full list of grant recipients:
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (for two exhibitions), Mid-Wilshire: $200,000
Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena: $100,000
ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena: $110,000
Autry Museum of the American West (for two exhibitions), Griffith Park: $175,000
The Broad, L.A.: $90,000
California African American Museum, L.A.: $120,000
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena: $83,000
California State University Dominguez Hills University Art Gallery, Carson: $100,000
Center for Land Use Interpretation, Palms: $70,000
Craft Contemporary, Mid-Wilshire: $73,000
Fathomers, Burbank: $115,000
Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood: $110,000
Fulcrum Arts, Pasadena: $100,000
Hammer Museum, Westwood: $215,000
Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (for three exhibitions), San Marino: $275,000
Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, L.A.: $120,000
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (presenting four exhibitions, three of which are grant supported), Mid-Wilshire: $335,000
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach: $100,000
La Jolla Historical Society, La Jolla: $100,000
Library Foundation of Los Angeles and L.A. Public Library, L.A.: $90,000
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Hollywood: $100,000
Los Angeles Filmforum, Hollywood: $85,000
Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Exposition Park: $100,000
Mingei International Museum, San Diego: $100,000
The Mistake Room, Central-Alameda: $110,000
Museum of Contemporary Art, L.A.: $175,000
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego: $120,000
Museum of Jurassic Technology, Palms: $50,000
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (for two exhibitions), Exposition Park: $180,000
ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University Park: $100,000
Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana: $100,000
The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego: $120,000
Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara: $100,000
Southern California Institute of Architecture, L.A.: $100,000
Self-Help Graphics & Art, Boyle Heights: $110,000
Skirball Cultural Center, Brentwood: $90,000
UC Irvine Beall Center for Art + Technology, Irvine: $100,000
UCLA Art | Sci Center, Westwood: $90,000
UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Westwood: $100,000
UCLA Film & Television Archive and UCLA Cinema & Media Studies Program, Westwood: $120,000
UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Westwood: $110,000
UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside, Riverside: $110,000
UC San Diego Institute of Arts and Humanities, La Jolla: $120,000
Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College, Monterey Park: $110,000
The Wende Museum, Culver City: $100,000
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.