Anisah Jester December 3rd
December 3rd, 2018
Art of the Pre Modern World
WIDENER, DANIEL. Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles.
Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010. pp.$1.38
In one word I could say Daniel Widener’s Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles is about revolution, a revolution of the twentieth century. It informs readers on the social and political aspects of the African American culture between the Second World War and the riots of 1992. Daniel Widener is a modern America history professor at University of California San Diego. While drawing attention to little to unknown artist that helped composed the Black Arts Movement, he uses his narrative to “frame the transformation of the postwar city through an analysis of the role played by black artist and by contrasting visions of African American culture”. It also helps argue the fact that those unknown artists and the movement that they created took part of a valued role in African American’s struggle to be free.
From black writers, visual artists, musicians to filmmakers, Black Arts West tells how politics changed overtime forming new innovative ways for artistic and cultural expression in the society of postwar Los Angeles. However, he was not only invested in artist, but other figures that contributed to the to the politics and social aspects of the African American art culture at the time. Those figures included black nationalists, affluent liberal whites, elected officials, and federal bureaucrats. “It asses black efforts to forge a meaningful and comprehensive freedom in twentieth century urban American”. Thee Black Arts Movement in Southern California was more than just an affiliation with the artistic points of local civil-right, it was a social movement in itself. By highlighting the basic connections between cultural expression and struggles in the political field, “Black Arts West is a major contribution to the histories of Los Angeles, black radicalism, and avant-garde art.”
This book can be broken down as three stories in one with six chapters. The first narrative or part one “Cultural Democracy in the Racial Metropolis”, can be said to be based on how organizations and individuals themselves became successful in relation to the arts as a main component through African Americans struggle to find freedom. The second narrative or part two called “Message from the Grassroots”, can be read to examine the relationship between the up rise of African American culture by artist in the black working class. Part three is known as “Festivals and Funerals” All parts of the narrative depicts the multiple visions of politics that partake in the black culture in Los Angeles between 1942 and 1992.
“The first three chapters specifically discuss different artistic genres”. One of the chapters are called “Hollywood Scuffle: The Second World War, Los Angeles and the Politics of Wartime Representation “. It puts an emphasis on artist who take the visual aspect for their art. It also explains how the Black Artists Alliance (BAA) and Black Arts Council (BAC) were both created in 1968 along with h of which emerged in 1968, and the Compton Communicative Arts Academy. The academy became about in the 1960s but later fell in 1975. “The Negro as a Human Being? Desegregation and the Black Arts Imperative”, another chapter, discusses the background and the history of the Underground Musicians Association. It was founded in 1961, also known as the Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension, the Community Cultural Arkestra, and the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra. Lastly, this chapter “Writing Watts: The Rise and Fall of Cultural Liberalism”, puts a focus on literature. It illuminates how the Watts Writer’s Workshop came about after the 1965 riot. This included how it first progressed in the community and then how it declines. It was founded by Budd Schulberg, a Hollywood writer.