sourced from the EZTV archives at 18th Street Arts Center & ONE archives at USC
additional materials sourced from the Patric Prince Archives at the V&A, London & Zina Bethune archives at UCLA
Imagine West Hollywood in 1982, a creative community that didn’t really yet know each other. A hotbed of artistic innovation, exploring and experimenting in unprecedented ways, Where literally across the street from one another, history was taking place, as the polar extremes of the emerging electronic arts were being explored..
This diverse and caring urban neighborhood was still largely unaware about each other’s needs, or the challenges that it would soon be facing. Just at the beginnings of a pandemic that would alter forever, not just West Hollywood, but the world as a whole, a generation of promising artists disappeared almost as soon as they began to be noticed.
Among the many artists, who succumbed to this pandemic, were pioneers who anticipated the artistic and networked social climate which we now take for granted, but at the time, was still largely ignored by the greater art world.
It may have been a fluke that such a group of talented people appeared in one place at the same. It was moment in time that has shaped the world’s knowledge of Contemporary Art, LGBTQ, the Pacific Design Center, and West Hollywood. The City should be proud to know this, and to help foster the recognition of its earlier achievements.
Everyone wanted to pitch in and help.
In 1982, pioneering large scale projection artist Ron Hays (who succumbed to AIDS in the late 1980s) and artist/producer Joan Collins, collaborated to create the Opening Ceremonies for the new “neighborhood” Pacific Design Center (PDC). The community was inspired, came together more, and continued to set forth. The creative team of Hays and Collins repeated their achievement in 1988, when the new green building at PDC was unveiled.
In what was an extremely rare achievement at that time, large-scale video projections of computer imagery were projected onto hovering balloons flying aloft above the PDC. The projection artists were allowed to display publicly, an art form still largely unseen by the public, and to give the neighbors and all who drove by the glimpse of that new art form. This significant example of public art should be included in the history of digital art as well as the history of West Hollywood.
This event helped solidify some of the key individuals of LA-SIGGRAPH, which was to become the most influential single professional society, for the emerging digital arts.
But that was not the only innovation happening in 1982 on San Vicente Blvd. Across the street, in the West Hollywood Community Center, experiments in home-grown DIY productions began to be exhibited. That was the beginning of a cultural phenomenon that became the cornerstone of West Hollywood’s most nationally visible art space: EZTV
EZTV went on to become an integral part of the glue for this diverse local community. This rag-tag group of fiercely independent artists shared their venue, their tools and their expertise, with both the local and international community. They kept their doors open for Gallery use of these new electronic experiences of cg-expression with Gallery-Openings, and image creation, editing, and anything the mind wanted. And the erected the West Hollywood Sign, on the hill next door to them, to tell the world that their pride in their newly formed city would not go unnoticed.
Often still over-looked by both the quickly written first drafts of both contemporary art and digital art histories, EZTV is slowly beginning to receive the long-overdue recognition, it so richly deserves.
In 2011, as part of the Getty-sponsored Pacific Standard Time, some of EZTV’s earliest efforts were exhibited, but not within the geographical boundaries of West Hollywood, in which it was born. It is time for the City of West Hollywood to formally recognize and embrace the innovative artists and community activists, who were once such an integral part of WeHo history.
Today we have CG in every aspect of Art and Design. LA-SIGGRAPH, EZTV, and the celebrated diversity of West Hollywood helped do that. They were a spark, that inspired a generation of artists, thinkers and activists to venture into the unexplored territory that the convergence of media, computing and community.
To that, we would like to propose, that for one evening, we restage this historical event in an effort to once again create public awareness and pride.
We would bring back some of Ron Hays’ original elements of that historic GRAND OPENING called “Sky” at the Pacific Design center. We would both exhibit the original imagery from that period, as well as invite several contemporary artists, to create new works to demonstrate the evolution which has occurred.
"Restage 'Sky' at PDC"
Written by Michael J. Masucci
UPDATE: As of October, 2013, this proposal was approved by the City of West Hollywood, who have committed both financial as well as in-kind support.
The event will take place on April 12, 2014. More details to follow...
Below is a draft of a proposal which is being developed as a collaboration between LA-SIGGRAPH, ONE Gallery & the EZTV Museum. It will be presented soon to the Arts Council of the City of West Hollywood.
Proposal: re-staging of historical West Hollywood art event, and retrospective exhibition (including modern works) of leading digital and video projection artists.