Compton Art & History Museum Opens
|Installation view of "Sons Like Me" with Anthony Lee Pittman's The Art of Peer Pressure, 2023, and Killer of Sheep, 2022|
The Compton Art & History Museum opened last month with "Sons Like Me," a show of paintings by Anthony Lee Pittman. Located in a mini-mall near Compton's Library and City Hall, the museum is the initiative of spouses Abigail Lopez-Bird and Marquell Bird.
Part of its mission is to excavate the history of a globally famous suburb that's gone through many transformations. In 1950 Compton was the all-white hometown of two future Republican Presidents (oil drill bit salesman George H.W. Bush and his 4-year-old son George W.) By 1970 the city was predominantly Black, and in the 1980s it became the epicenter of West Coast hip-hop. Compton's footprint in the visual arts is significant as well. In 1969 Judson Powell established the Communicative Arts Academy with John Outterbridge as artistic director. During its 6-year existence the CAA provided Afro-centric arts instruction ranging from dance to darkroom techniques. One instructor, Elliott Pinkney, painted eight murals for Compton in the 1970s (of which only three survive). A small display of photographs and memorabilia from area universities traces this history.
|Anthony Lee Pittman, Sons Like Me, 2023|
|Anthony Lee Pittman, Fire & Desire|
The art exhibit, "Sons Like Me," takes its title from Essex Hemphill's poem "In the Life." Anthony Lee Pittman's photo-real paintings adopt haloes and saintly iconography to explore the paradoxes of growing up queer and mixed race (Black and Latino) in Compton.
The "saint" is a portrait of the artist's father, and the pit bulls are family pets that were shot by police.
|Anthony Lee Pittman, Killer of Sheep, 2022|
The Compton Museum of Art & History is at 306 West Compton Blvd., #104. Admission is free, and it's open Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM to 3 PM.