Item #List1608 Junk. Art - African-American - California, Noah Purifoy, Judson Powell, 66 Signs of Neon Exhibition, Watts Uprising.
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Los Angeles: 66 Signs of Neon, 1971. [12] pages. Illustrated wrappers in tan and black, Numerous illustrations, 13 3/4 x 10 1/2 inches. Some minor wear and creasing, very good minus condition overall. Very Good Minus. Item #List1608

Shortly following the Watts Uprising, a group of artists led by Noah Purifoy and Judson Powell began creating a series of assemblages from artifacts from the events, which they would eventually show in the 66 Signs of Neon exhibition at the Renaissance of the Arts Festival, held at Markham Junior High School in April of 1966. Offered here is the illustrated catalog from the exhibition, illustrating fifteen of the approximately fifty works created for the exhibition. Purifoy and Powell were at the time the directors of art education at the Watts Towers Arts Center, which were located close to Simon Rodia’s junk art spires on East 107th St. The exhibition catalog describes the works as follows:

“66 Signs of Neon exists on several levels as an art exhibition dominated by assemblages of artifacts of the Watts riots (August 1965); as a one-to-one format of communication between individuals who otherwise would not or could not communicate; as an evolving system of philosophy. It began as an expression of the necessity for art education, affirming the importance of this avenue of self-expression to individuals in the community of Watts. Noah Purifoy and Judson Powell began with six assemblages created from the lead drippings of melted neon signs, artifacts of the riots. As their work continued they recruited six other professionals skilled in the plastic and graphic arts. In concert, the group set out to create 66 separate works of art for the festival, in the incredibly brief period of 30 days. They labored literally night and day, groping through “the glittering, twisted, grotesquely formed materials, each interpreting in his own way the August happening.”

An uncommon catalog illustrating this important exhibition, with only one copy surfacing at auction, at the Swann African-American sale in 2022.

Price: $1,500.00