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John Outterbridge papers, 1953-1997

More Information

Rihoko Ueno
Scope and Contents
The papers of Los Angeles African American painter, sculptor, and arts administrator John Outterbridge measure 4.8 linear feet and date from 1953 to 1997. The papers include biographical material, correspondence, writings, professional and project files, Watts Towers Arts Center files, exhibition files, printed material, photographs, a scrapbook, and one motion picture film reel.
Biographical material includes life documents, awards, interview transcripts, a few sketches, teaching certificates, and a motion picture film reel entitled John Outterbridge: Black Artist.
The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters to John Outterbridge from family, artists, colleagues, museums, and universities. Notable correspondents include Maya Angelou, Johnny Otis, and Charles White.
Writings include teaching notes, an artist statement, nine typescript essays by Outterbridge, as well as papers written by students, and poems by various artists.
Professional and project files document Outterbridge's involvement in conferences, symposiums, membership records, and fellowships. There are grant and job applications, contracts, correspondence, project plans, and administrative records. There is documentation of the Metro Art for Rail Transit project and of his work as director of the Communicative Arts Academy. Outterbridge's directorship of the Watts Towers Arts Center (WTAC) are arranged in a separate series; files document administration, annual programs and events, and special projects.
Exhibition files are found for several exhibitions in which Outterbridge participated in the mid-1990s. Printed material includes clippings about John Outterbridge and the Watts Towers Arts Center, exhibition catalogs, announcements, books, and magazines.
There is one scrapbook that contains clippings, award certificates, and photographs of the Watts Towers Arts Center events. There are photographs of Johnny Otis, Nina Simone, and L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley.
Photographs are of John Outterbridge and his artwork, studio, family, friends, and events. Among those depicted in the photographs are Bob Marley and Gregory Hines.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The John Outterbridge papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by John Outterbridge in 1997.
Related Materials
The Archives of American Art also has an oral history interview with John Outterbridge conducted by Allen Bassing in 1973.
A copy of the film John Outterbridge: Black Artist is available in the Samella Lewis papers, in the Rose Library at Emory University.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid created by Rihoko Ueno in 2016. A motion picture film reel was inspected and re-housed in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.