The Trio Creating an L.A. Mecca for Celebrating Artists of Color

Five years ago, artist Mark Bradford and his partner, social activist Allan DiCastro, together with philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton, founded Art + Practice, a new kind of nonprofit supporting the needs of local foster youth and providing the community with free access to museum-curated contemporary art in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Initially funded by support from Bradford’s 2009 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, A+P’s focus for its contemporary art programs is, simply put, to “create a space in which artists of color are celebrated” both in terms of new art and the historically important work that has gone un-championed by local and national museums.

Past exhibitions have surveyed the work of L.A. legends such as assemblage artist John Outterbridge and the multidisciplinary maven Maren Hassinger, or examined the history of the legendary Leimert Park–based Brockman Gallery. The foundation also runs education programs for local schoolchildren and a unique paid internship, in concert with social service provider First Place for Youth, for foster kids in South Los Angeles. Their first intern, Josiah Green, is now enrolled in the photography program at Bradford’s alma mater, the California Institute of the Arts. For Bradford, DiCastro, and Norton, running the space together is both a personal labor of love and a structural bond between institution and neighborhood. Prior to A+P, “few art organizations or museums paired social services with arts programming,” the founders say. “Art in combination with practice becomes a platform that can and does do more.”

A+P also collaborates with establishments like the Hammer Museum, The Broad, and The Baltimore Museum of Art, ensuring that locals have access to their scholarship while always questioning, “What types of artistic works would challenge the community’s understanding of contemporary art?” As for the future, the foundation has just extended its recent partnership with the California African American Museum based on popular demand, a gesture that is exemplary of how A+P’s team shares its resources and shows love.

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