The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles presents Leo Politi’s Los Angeles: Works of Love and Protest

Feb 01, 2019 757

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) is pleased to present Leo Politi’s Los Angeles: Works of Love and Protest. Best known for his soothing watercolors of children and families, Leo Politi (1908-1996) was a beloved Italian American artist and Caldecott Award-winning author. For most of his artistic career, Politi used Los Angeles as inspiration and muse.

This exhibition explores an overlooked aspect of Politi’s career: his passion for Los Angeles history and his love for the city’s diverse cultures and neighborhoods. Politi’s work proves truly avant garde in that it predated the multicultural movement by decades. During a time when many historic neighborhoods were being erased or transformed, Politi was an advocate of preservation. He captured Los Angeles enclaves, landmarks, and communities in his art and writing, suspending them in time. As an artist, Politi challenged the concept of progress built on the destruction of the past, a topic still relevant in contemporary Los Angeles.

Through a series of rarely exhibited works spanning sixty years, Leo Politi’s Los Angeles: Works of Love and Protest transports audiences to bygone eras—Watts in the late 1960s, and San Pedro during the apex of the fishing industry—along with forever altered places, including the forgotten neighborhood of Bunker Hill, and World War II-era downtown Los Angeles.

About the artist

Leo Politi was born Atiglio Leoni Politi in Fresno, California, the son of Italian immigrant parents. At the age of seven, Politi returned with his family to Italy where his love for drawing blossomed. When Politi was a teenager, the family relocated to London. Enchanted by the city’s cosmopolitan lifestyle, Politi explored London’s museums and studied the works of Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet, and Rembrandt, among other masters.

He received a scholarship to attend the National Art Institute in Italy and, after completing his education, decided to move to California. Traveling by boat, Politi became acquainted with Latin American society and grew enamored of Mayan culture. The rich earth tone hues became his palette throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

After arriving in Los Angeles, Politi worked as an artist on Olvera Street, sketching and painting tourists and selling his work. Politi began illustrating magazines and books and ultimately became a children’s author. As World War II approached, Politi used his signature characters—Pancho, Lupita, and Pedro—to convey pacifist messages. Walt Disney offered to purchase the rights for Pedro’s character, but Politi refused; he would not compromise his artistic integrity. Politi authored thirty books; among them are Moy Moy, Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street, and Song of the Swallows.

From February 12 to May 19th, 2019. Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Closed Mondays. Address: 644 North Main Street (corner of Cesar Chavez Avenue) Los Angeles, CA, 90012. Tel. (213) 485-8432.

Directions: Take the Metro Red Line, Gold Line, or Purple Line to Union Station/Gateway Transit Center. Exit the station and walk across N. Alameda Street to El Pueblo Historical Monument. Continue west to Main Street, then walk North one block to Cesar Chavez. The IAMLA is located near the 101 and 110 freeway intersection.

Admission: Free. Donations encouraged.

Parking: There are several parking options in the area. Lot 1 - 419 N. Main Street. Lot 2 - 615 N. Main Street. Lot 3 - 852 N. Alameda Street

About the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA)

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) is a 21st century interactive museum that documents the history and contributions of Italian Americans in Southern California and the nation, a story that is inextricably linked to the region itself and represents a unique chapter of the Italian Diaspora. The IAMLA features exhibitions and a variety of cultural-educational programming. The IAMLA is collaboratively operated with the City of Los Angeles, and is located in the Italian Hall, which was constructed in 1908 to serve as a community gathering place. Today, the Italian Hall is among the oldest remaining structures from Los Angeles' historic Little Italy and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The IAMLA is a 501 (c)3 charitable organization.

SOURCE: Italian American Museum of Los Angeles

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