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Historical Note | A Finding Aid to the Ankrum Gallery records, circa 1900-circa 1990s, bulk 1960-1990

Ankrum Gallery records, circa 1900-circa 1990s, bulk 1960-1990

Historical Note

The Ankrum Gallery was established 1960 in Los Angeles by American film actress Joan Wheeler Ankrum and William Chalee. The gallery closed in 1989.
Joan Wheeler Ankrum and William Challee opened Ankrum Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1960 with a one-man show of Ankrum's nephew Morris Broderson. With a focus on contemporary California artists, Ankrum Gallery represented over 395 artists during its 30 years in operation, including Benny Andrews, Carlos Almaraz, Richard Bauer, Irving Block, Naomi Caryl, Bernie Casey, Frank Duveneck, Lorser Feitelson, Bruno Groth, David Herschler, Jessie Homer, Suzanne Jackson, Buffie Johnson, Samella Lewis, Helen Lundeberg, Arnold Mesches, Henry Miller, Melvin Schuler, Arthur Secunda, Ken Shores, Jean Varda, and Zev. In addition, the gallery was among the earliest to exhibit the work of black artists. The gallery also held exhibitions of world artists, which included "Art of African Peoples" (1973), "Yarn Paintings of the Huichol Indians" (1973), "Five Contemporary Mexican Painters" (1977), and "Ethiopian Folk Painting" (1978). Ankrum Gallery closed in 1989.
Art dealer and gallery owner, Joan Wheeler Ankrum was an actress before establishing the Ankrum Gallery primarily to showcase the work of her deaf nephew, Morris Broderson. Born in 1913 in Palo Alto, California, she began acting at the Pasadena Playhouse where she met her first husband Morris Ankrum with whom she had two sons, David and Cary Ankrum. She married gallery co-owner and partner William Challee in 1984. She helped organize the Los Angeles Art Dealers Association and the Monday Night Art Walks on La Cienega Boulevard. She was a member of the relatively short-lived Black Arts Council. Joan Wheeler Ankrum died in 2001 at the age of 88.
Morris Broderson (1928-2011) was a deaf painter. His first one-man show was at the Stanford Museum in 1957, followed by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. By 1959 he'd won two awards from the Los Angeles County Museum, and appeared in the Whitney Museum's "Young America" show in 1960. His travels influenced his work, including the hand gestures of Kabuki art in Japan. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, among others. Following Joan Ankrum's death in 2001, Broderson was represented by her son David Ankrum.