(L-R) Amy Sillman, Brenna Youngblood, Henry Taylor, Torey Thornton, D’Metrius John Rice, Jamillah James, Ulrich Wulff, Jamian JulianoVillani, and Kevin Beasley at the opening reception for ‘A Shape That Stands Up’ at Art + Practice. 19 March 2016. Photo by Natalie Hon.
The neighborhood, located in South Central Los Angeles, was a master-planned community developed in the 1920s. Its central gathering place was Leimert Plaza Park, which then, as now, was a colorful, ebullient communal space for music, art and conversation. Once the racial covenants excluding non-white buyers were ruled unconstitutional in the 1940s, the relatively small neighborhood attracted middle-class African American families. The area began to earn its reputation as an African American cultural enclave in the aftermath of the Watts riots of 1965. Both Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles lived there for a time. One of the most notable early events in the artistic history of the Village (as it came to be called) was the founding of Brockman Gallery by brothers Dale Brockman Davis and Alonzo Davis in the 1960s. The gallery was conceived as a space for African American artists to show and see work, which was increasingly difficult after the Los Angeles County Museum of Art split from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art and relocated to Miracle Mile 69