Oral Histories

Interview of Curtis Tann

African-American Artists of Los Angeles: Curtis Tann
African American Artists of Los Angeles
African American History
Mason, Karen Anne
Tann, Curtis
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in the series African American Artists of Los Angeles document significant African American Artists and others in the Los Angeles metropolitan area who have worked to expand exhibition opportunities and public support for African American visual culture. The series was made possible in part by support from the UCLA Center for African American Studies, Institute of American Cultures.
Growing up in Circleville, Ohio; batik piece The Day Worker; works on Works Progress Administration project at Hiram House; Karamu House; attending the Cleveland Institute of Art; Cleveland Polytechnic School of Art; plays by Langston Hughes and others produced by the Gilpin Players at Karamu House; learning enameling; doing enameling for Renoir-Matisse, Ltd.; Elmer Simms Campbell; experiencing Florence, Italy, after World War II; persecution of pro-fascists after the war; Rowena and Russell Jelliffe; introduction to African art; organizes a women's tie-dye and batik group at the Watts Towers Art Center; exhibition of Karamu House artists in New York City; enameling on steel; some commissioned enameling jobs; moving to Los Angeles; painting neckties for a living; hired as head designer for Allen of California; decision to attend Chouinard Art Institute; racial problems at Chouinard; the Eleven Associated gallery; P'lla Mills; poor press for African American artists; African Americans' lack of support for the arts; Miriam Matthew's art collection; the Tutor/Art program; William Pajaud; metal sculpture; experimenting with junk; disinclination toward assemblage art; teaching applied art at Beethoven Elementary School; first one-man show at the Jack Carr Art Gallery in the early fifties; showing at the Pasadena Art Museum's California Design exhibition; partnership with Betye Saar; negative work experiences at Renoir-Matisse, Ltd., and Sascha Brastoff Industries; need for money to support the arts in communities; Pasadena Arts Council; interest in Asian art; glassblowing; weaving; enamel work in Mexico; teaching and storytelling at Charles White Park; dream of opening an arts center.