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Archive: https://archive.ph/BFLBH

From the website:

The founding of the Woman's Building in Los Angeles in 1973 was the culmination of several years of activity (see Bibliography) by women artists who were energized by the feminist movement in this country. This activity included protests of major museums for their exclusion of women artists, the opening of gallery spaces dedicated to the work of women, the founding of the first feminist art education programs (in 1970, by Judy Chicago at Fresno State College and in 1971 by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro at California Institute of the Arts), and the first large scale public feminist art installation, Womanhouse.

In 1973, artist Judy Chicago, graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and art historian Arlene Raven founded the first independent school for women artists, the Feminist Studio Workshop. The FSW focused not only on the development of artmaking skills (in visual arts, writing, performance art, video, graphic design and the printing arts), but also on the development of women's identity and sensibility, and the translation of these elements into their artwork. Central to the founders' vision was the idea that the arts should not be separated from other activities of the burgeoning women's community, and the three looked for a site for their school that could also be shared with other organizations and enterprises.

This space, the Woman's Building, opened in November 1973. The Woman's Building took its name and inspiration from a structure built by Sophia Hayden for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago to house exhibitions of cultural works by women from around the world. When the Woman's Building first opened in 1973, it occupied the site of the old Chouinard Art Institute near MacArthur Park. Hundreds of women came from across the United States (and from as far away as Canada, Mexico, Holland and Switzerland) to attend the FSW.

The facility was also home to galleries, theater companies, Sisterhood Bookstore, Womantours Travel Agency, a coffeehouse, and the offices of the National Organization for Women. In 1975, the Woman's Building moved to a building on North Spring Street, near Chinatown. At that time, the organization began to generate its own programming, so the entire three floors of the reconverted warehouse were filled with artistic activities.

In 1981, the Woman's Building underwent major organizational change as a shift occurred in the cultural and economic climates of the United States. By that year, the organization's founders had all left to pursue other projects, and a "second generation" of FSW graduates would carry the organization through the next decade. That year the FSW closed, as the demand for alternative education diminished.

😥

Woman's Building Records, 1972-1991 is in the collection of The Archives of American Art, housed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. This collection is available to researchers by appointment. Finding Aid to the Woman's Building Records, 1970-1992.

Copies of selected materials are also available at the Lesbian Legacy Collection, Library and Archives at the ONE Institute in Los Angeles, 310.854.0271. Finding Aid to the Woman's Building Records, 1964-1992, 2011 Coll2014-126 Archive link: https://archive.ph/jSZtI

The Letterpress Studio is now located at the Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Ave. Pasadena, CA 91103. Classes continue there. Telephone 626.792.5101.

Archive: https://archive.ph/BFLBH From the website: The founding of the Woman's Building in Los Angeles in 1973 was the culmination of several years of activity (see Bibliography) by women artists who were energized by the feminist movement in this country. This activity included protests of major museums for their exclusion of women artists, the opening of gallery spaces dedicated to the work of women, the founding of the first feminist art education programs (in 1970, by Judy Chicago at Fresno State College and in 1971 by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro at California Institute of the Arts), and the first large scale public feminist art installation, Womanhouse. In 1973, artist Judy Chicago, graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and art historian Arlene Raven founded the first independent school for women artists, the Feminist Studio Workshop. The FSW focused not only on the development of artmaking skills (in visual arts, writing, performance art, video, graphic design and the printing arts), but also on the development of women's identity and sensibility, and the translation of these elements into their artwork. Central to the founders' vision was the idea that the arts should not be separated from other activities of the burgeoning women's community, and the three looked for a site for their school that could also be shared with other organizations and enterprises. This space, the Woman's Building, opened in November 1973. The Woman's Building took its name and inspiration from a structure built by Sophia Hayden for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago to house exhibitions of cultural works by women from around the world. When the Woman's Building first opened in 1973, it occupied the site of the old Chouinard Art Institute near MacArthur Park. Hundreds of women came from across the United States (and from as far away as Canada, Mexico, Holland and Switzerland) to attend the FSW. The facility was also home to galleries, theater companies, Sisterhood Bookstore, Womantours Travel Agency, a coffeehouse, and the offices of the National Organization for Women. In 1975, the Woman's Building moved to a building on North Spring Street, near Chinatown. At that time, the organization began to generate its own programming, so the entire three floors of the reconverted warehouse were filled with artistic activities. In 1981, the Woman's Building underwent major organizational change as a shift occurred in the cultural and economic climates of the United States. By that year, the organization's founders had all left to pursue other projects, and a "second generation" of FSW graduates would carry the organization through the next decade. That year the FSW closed, as the demand for alternative education diminished. 😥 Woman's Building Records, 1972-1991 is in the collection of The Archives of American Art, housed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. This collection is available to researchers by appointment. Finding Aid to the Woman's Building Records, 1970-1992. Copies of selected materials are also available at the Lesbian Legacy Collection, Library and Archives at the ONE Institute in Los Angeles, 310.854.0271. Finding Aid to the Woman's Building Records, 1964-1992, 2011 Coll2014-126 Archive link: https://archive.ph/jSZtI The Letterpress Studio is now located at the Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Ave. Pasadena, CA 91103. Classes continue there. Telephone 626.792.5101.

10 comments

[–] Lipsy 3 points Edited

The building still stands, though in an increasingly dilapidated state from 20+ years of disuse.

That couple long blocks of Spring is still... waiting for its moment, pretty much. It's just BARELY too far to qualify as 'reasonably walkable' from the new-ish L.A. Philharmonic concert hall and Broad (rhymes with "road") museum, so it hasn't been touched by the revitalization of restaurants, wine/aperitif bars, etc that those two have catalyzed in areas just three or four blocks from the Women's building.

Also—in a particularly cruel twist for L.A., fully 24% of whose area in satellite view comprises the roofs of private vehicles—it isn't feasible to build a parking facility near the WB, either (from which visitors could, in fact, hoof it to/from the Broad or the LA Phil). The property line on one side abuts right up against the protected greenspace of Buena Vista Park, and on the other side lies a warehouse district, which is densified in the typical way of center-city warehouse districts (i.e., not leaving anywhere suitable for the footprint of a parking garage).

Accordingly, the WB contains... nothing, and is surrounded by a whole lot of even more nothing.
(Realistically, there might be 2.5 whole Kowloon units of squatters and drug-related activity in there by this point, but nothing you'll rlly see randomly.)

The fucking INFURIATING thing, to me, is that the WB is now listed on multiple "LGBTQ tours" of Los Angeles.
Um. What the whole entire triple-distilled FUCK? The history of this building could maaaaaaybe be said to have been peripherally aligned here and there with "L"—in the same broad-brush way that feminism and lesbianism are alws at least somewhat synoptic—but not in any more concrete way. The other four letters have no imaginable relevance of any kind whatsoever to this place.

So yeah, u w0t m8? The TQ+ literally owns all of Women's herstory now? How about no.

Back in the 1970’s, we would make a day of it. Drive downtown, go see the women’s art installations, go to Sisterhood for lesbian and feminist books and then have coffee and a snack at the coffeehouse (owned by women, of course).

I’m glad I haven’t seen it in its current state of disrepair. It is almost a totem for the feminism of the time period. The rest of the alphabet soup never got near it and that is exactly how we liked it.

I would deadass chop off a toe or maybe even more than one to be able to go experience that. There is nothing even close to even a single part of the outing you just described nowadays.

I grew up near LA and never heard of this.

Maybe it's for the best that its no longer around. It would have been colonized by TIMs if it was

No, i immediately thought of Hayden's though. That is interesting. I've read about Womanhouse before, i'm surprised it's was the first large scale one.

The bit about marginalized groups in museums reminds me of Fred Wilson's Mining the Museum. I heard his speak about it, interesting stuff to get better representation in museums.

All women’s groups seem to dissolve very quickly. Why? This was pre TRA madness so that isn’t it. Sheila Jeffreys alludes to this in some of her WDI talks.