Oxy Arts, Occidental College’s community-based arts hub, will formally open the doors of its newly renovated York Boulevard space on Wednesday, May 22 with a 5 p.m. community open house, the first in a series of four over the next week.
“We want to invite the Northeast community to visit this beautiful new public space and work with us to bring the Northeast Los Angeles community, the Oxy community and local and regional artists together in dialogue and engagement,” says Meldia Yesayan, Oxy Arts director.
Other open houses at Oxy Arts on York, 4757 York Boulevard in Highland Park, will be held on Friday, May 24 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon; Tuesday, May 28 from 5 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, June 1 from 3 to 5 p.m
Summer programming will include the opening of Compass Rose, a new exhibition and collaboration between Oxy Arts, the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles, and Highland Park artist Debra Scacco, and a summer arts residency of L.A.’s historic Bob Baker Marionette Theater with free weekly puppet shows followed by workshops for children, teens and adults. Both are scheduled to open in conjunction with the May 28 open house.
Personal stories of Highland Park residents, shared with Occidental students as part of an ongoing NELA Stories oral history program, are at the heart of Scacco’s Compass Rose, which reinterprets historic Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (1888-1970) of the area with the stories of the community members who live and work within its boundaries.
The stories featured in Compass Rose are based on student interviews with local residents conducted as part of Prof. Jeremiah Axelrod’s spring 2019 course, “Countercultural Northeast LA: the Arts of Resistance.” Each interview is digitally archived, with the support of the College’s Center for Digital Liberal Arts, and stored in Occidental’s Library Special Collections and College Archives.
“Early maps of Los Angeles make no mention of our Tongva origins, and scarcely acknowledge boundaries in which California was Mexico,” Scacco says. “The Sanborn Fire Atlas, now a key tool in decoding the evolution of American cities, literally pasted new information atop the old, leaving no access to the stories beneath. Compass Rose brings the map to life.”
May 28 will also mark the first performance of Bob’s Petite Theater at Oxy Arts, a summer-long residency with free puppet shows and workshops every Tuesday. Bob’s Petite Theater seeks to recreate founder Bob Baker’s earliest experiments with marionette fabrication and performance. Founded in 1963 in Westlake, on the edge of downtown Los Angeles, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is the city’s oldest children's theater company.
The residency will allow the troupe to continue to perform as it remodels a former movie theater turned church just west of Oxy Arts for which it signed a 10-year lease earlier this year. The free May 28 show will begin at 10 a.m., with a children’s workshop to follow at 11 a.m. A complete schedule of shows and workshops can be found at www.bobbakermarionettetheater.com/petite-theater.
Oxy Arts programs across mediums—film, visual arts, performance, writing and music—alongside Occidental’s five academic arts departments and programs: Art & Art History, Interdisciplinary Writing, Media Arts & Culture, Music, and Theater. More information can be found at www.oxy.edu/oxy-arts.