Updates: On December 17, 2020 at 10am, The Cultural Heritage Commission will vote on landmarking Sister Corita’s Studio, which is threatened with demolition. Visit Corita.org for instructions for calling in, adding your name to their letter, or sending your own email. Our email to the CHC is below.
Dear Cultural Heritage Commissioners,
The creative and justice-centered work that Sister Corita Kent did in the modest cube on Los Feliz Boulevard rippled out across Los Angeles and the nation. She changed the lives of her students and of her community, and had a profound influence on major contemporary artists like Mike Kelley.
The physical site where she did all this work matters.
We have heard you say you don’t think this building looks enough like it did when Sister Corita was working here. But as people who love her art, we so profoundly see and feel her presence. The minor functional changes to a structure that was always meant to be functional do not erase its significance at all.
We are so tired of tuning in to land use hearings, and hearing developer lobbyists threaten, as this project’s representative recently did, “If you don’t let us tear down this culturally significant building right now, the funding will dry up and this project won’t happen.”
There is always room for compromise, but too many developers don’t want to bend. Why does the developer need to demolish this building? This parcel has been a busy supermarket before, with Sister Corita’s Art Studio at the edge of the parking lot. In fact, her posters were influenced by the market’s signage, making the site even more significant.
Landmarking and protecting this building doesn’t just preserve a cultural resource, it preserves a small family business that serves the community: Sun Cleaners. Saving a dry cleaners isn’t the job of the CHC, but that could be a happy side effect of your judging this groundbreaking women’s contemporary art site as worthy of recognition as a landmark
We urge you to send Sister Corita Kent’s art studio to full City Council for consideration as a Historic-Cultural Monument. It would be a grave mistake to turn this landmark into a couple of parking spaces.
Kim Cooper & Richard Schave
On 8/10/2020 we live tweeted the contentious neighborhood council hearing. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to read our tweets about what happened. To support Corita’s Studio in the landmarking process and stay informed, click here.
We’ve just learned that the art studio at 5518 Franklin Avenue where the influential graphic artist, educator and social justice advocate Sister Corita Kent (1918-1986) worked between 1960-1968 is threatened with demolition to create more parking for the Lazy Acres organic market, which is taking over the Rite-Aid.
The building currently holds a dry cleaners, but is essentially unchanged from when it was ground zero for the creation and dissemination of Corita’s powerful silk-screen images that addressed issues of poverty, racism, war, women’s rights and injustice with a distinctive bold graphic style that influenced artists and activists worldwide. See video of Corita and collaborators working in her studio here.
In 1966, the Los Angeles Times named Corita one of their Women of the Year, she was on the cover of Newsweek in 1967, and Harper’s Bazaar profiled her in “100 American Women of Accomplishment.” Her iconic LOVE postage stamp sold 700 million copies. Just last year, the City and County declared November 20, Corita Day. Her message of using the arts to bring about social change has never been more timely, and Corita’s Art Studio shouldn’t be demolished without a debate.
If you care about preservation of this significant cultural site, please call in tonight, August 10, at 6:30pm, to the Zoom meeting of the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, and ask the councilmembers to recommend that the Office of Historic Resources and the Cultural Heritage Commission weigh in on the importance of Corita’s Art Studio to the community and to the world. You don’t have to live in Los Angeles to make public comment. Instructions follow.
Hollywood United Neighborhood Council Agenda (PDF link).
HOW TO GIVE COMMENT: Every person wishing to address the Neighborhood Council must dial 1 (669) 900-6833, enter the Webinar ID 916 3369 3687 and then press # # to join the meeting. Instructions on how to sign up for public comment will be given to listeners at the start of the meeting. You can also use Zoom to access the meeting: https://zoom.us/j/91633693687. You will be giving comment on Agenda Item 8C) Discussion and possible motion re: 1823-1863 North Western Avenue (Lazy Acres).
WHAT TO SAY WHEN CALLED ON: Keep it short and to the point, as you won’t have much time. An example: “My name is Jean Harlow, I live in Hollywood, and I care about Sister Corita’s art studio, and believe it should be preserved. This building is too significant to be knocked down for a few parking spaces, and I’m asking the Neighborhood Council to refer the matter to the Office of Historic Resources and the Cultural Heritage Commission for discussion. Thank you.”
Update: below are our live tweets sent during the meeting.
• Up next at Hollywood United Neighborhood Council: possible demolition of Sister Corita Kent’s Art Studio.
• Bristol Farms spokesman is telling the Neighborhood Council that demolishing the two mid-century buildings on the site, including an RSO apartment and Sister Corita Kent’s Art Studio, will make the community safer, because there is so much vagrancy.
• Bristol Farms spokesman is introducing a land use attorney who is here to tell us that Sister Corita Kent is NOT an artist of significance, and if they can’t demolish her studio, they won’t buy Rite-Aid and the project dies. It’s slimy* DALE GOLDSMITH!!
[*note: pardon the rudeness, but we’ve been battling Mr. Goldsmith over preservation of the Los Angeles Times buildings we landmarked, and that corrupt councilmember Jose Huizar sabotaged for the benefit of Goldsmith’s client Onni Group, and it’s a sore subject.]
• It’s comical that lobbyist Dale Goldsmith says Sister Corita Kent isn’t very important and her primary art studio ought to be demolished for Lazy Acres’ parking lot, when just last year the City and County of Los Angeles dedicated a day in her honor!
• Speaking now on the significance of Sister Corita Kent is Nellie Scott, Director of the Corita Art Center, who had no idea demolition was on the HUNC agenda last year. She wants the Art Studio landmarked, and compares this site to Charles Bukowski’s house.
• Lazy Acres kept the original HUNC hearing on the down low, but if public comment is any indication, word is out about the threat to Corita’s studio. Artists, educators, historians. This matter needs to go before the Cultural Heritage Commission.
• Former HUNC board member Jamie Rosenthal calls in to say that Sister Corita Kent is her hero, and Bristol Farms would be smart to incorporate her artwork into their store. What a great idea!
• Blake Megdal from Lazy Acres / Bristol Farms repeats if Sister Corita’s Art Studio is preserved, the project is DOA. It’s not parking spaces, it’s room for trucks. He is HAPPY to put murals on the market, just let me demolish her historic studio!
• HUNC board member Brandi D’Amore explains how Sister Corita Kent’s art studio fell through the cracks at previous meeting: developer wasn’t asking for CEQA exemption, and the Corita Art Center has asked to buy the studio and was told it wasn’t for sale!
• HUNC board member Matt Wait says one more grocery store isn’t important, but Corita’s art studio is important, and so is affordable housing. Instead of calling the existing RSO unit substandard and giving tenant a cash for keys buy out, build more units!
• Board member Erin Penner thinks that if Sister Corita was a male artist, her historic studio wouldn’t be treated as if it weren’t significant by the developer. She’s right! Best-selling U.S. postage stamp, cover of Newsweek, international acclaim…
• HUNC board member Brandi D’Amore calls developer Blake Megdal out for dishonesty in his proposal to the Neighborhood Council, not asking for a CEQA exemption when they sought approval in December, no RSO mentioned. And the Corita Art Center had no idea.
• Funny: the last big preservation hearing we attended where lobbyist Dale Goldsmith spoke (Onni’s Times Mirror Square), he also said that if the board didn’t vote yes immediately, the project would die. Desperate attempt to smear Corita and neighborhood.
• HUNC board member Jim Van Dusen: “We’re advisory only, we’re going in circles and all these issues are in the letter.” Glen Skarpelos asks if Corita’s Art Studio should be saved or if a plaque is enough. Tom Meredith: “No!” Brandi: “That’s not our call!”
• HUNC board member Christopher Parkinson asks if the developer will make a legally binding commitment in perpetuity to integrate Sister Corita Kent’s artwork into the Lazy Acres grocery store project?
• Architect Michael Pinto calls in speaking eloquently about Sister Corita Kent’s incredible career, and how it came to its greatest flower right there in the little storefront that Bristol Farms is desperate to demolish for its project. A plaque won’t do!
• HUNC board member Michael Connolly believes developers always win and Corita’s art studio is an eyesore. “Ultimately, it will be developed by someone, we have to look at the reality of Los Angeles.” Not really, man. Landmarking saves ugly buildings.
• Developer Blake Megdal is threatening to keep Sister Corita Kent’s art studio (which he owns) as a dry cleaner if he doesn’t get his way to demolish the structure. A dry cleaner is a useful community amenity, not a threat. These rich people are crazy.
• HUNC having a hard time moving on from the red hot matter of demolishing Sister Corita Kent’s art studio. Letter updated to include hope that artwork is incorporated into the market building. Lots of abstentions, but motion passes. But it ain’t over!