Author and curator Caryn Coleman recently got a sneak peek at the soon-to-be-reopened Vincent Price Art Museum in East Los Angeles. Caryn was kind enough to join us for a guest post about the museum.
Vincent Price’s life-long dedication to art has been long overshadowed by his significant involvement in the horror genre. People are always surprised when I mention he was an avid supporter of the arts despite his publicly prolific devotion to collecting and his passion for educating others. He even co-owned the Little Gallery in Los Angeles for two years! Fortunately, this passionate side of the genre icon will showcased starting May 20th (during the Vincentennial!) with the re-opening of the Vincent Price Art Museum in East L.A.
I had the pleasure of meeting with the museum’s Director, Karen Rapp, recently for a sneak peek at the massive (40,000 square feet, four stories) and stunning new building. As part of the new $65 million East Los Angeles College’s Performing and Fine Arts Complex, it will undoubtedly cement Price’s legacy in art history.
Founded more than 50 years ago, in 1957, the VPAM is the first public art gallery in East Los Angeles. As Rapp explained to me, the core mission is to develop Price’s purpose for donating his collection to a public institution: to make art accessible to the public, particularly young people, so that it becomes a part of everyday life. The new building includes storage for its collection of more than 8000 works, a lecture hall and space for workshops, as well as seven exhibition spaces that will host shows to both the permanent collection and special temporary exhibitions. You won’t find Price memorabilia here (save for the fabulous portrait sketch by Rico LeBrun that greets visitors in the entrance hall), but what you will get is true glimpse of the man behind the horror.
The Vincent Price Art Museum opens to the public on May 20th with several shows including ROUND TRIP that features artists who began their career in East Los Angeles: Diane Gamboa, Gronk, Clement Hanami, Will Herrón III, Judithe Hernández, Kent Twitchell, John Valadez and Patssi Valdez. After that there will be around three new exhibitions a year (and I hear that a horror cinema and contemporary art show is on the horizon). So if and when in Los Angeles, I urge you to go and do what Vincent Price loved to do – look at art. And if you want to go prepared, read his fascinating love letter to visual art, I Like What I Know: A Visual Autobiography.
Caryn Coleman is a curator and writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose curatorial practice explores horror cinema’s influence on contemporary artists. This is the basis for her online writing project The Girl Who Knew Too Much and upcoming exhibition programming. She is currently the Curator for the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts ‘Art & Law’ Residency.