LECTURES | Better Living Through Electricity

Doug White, Shopping Bag Market, date unknown. Photograph, 4 in. x 5 in. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Doug White, Shopping Bag Market, date unknown. Photograph, 4 in. x 5 in. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

On Monday night, April 1, The Huntington will host a panel discussion devoted to the web-based digital exhibition “Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940–1990.” That new exhibition is part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. and is slated to launch on May 1. It will include more than 400 historical photographs from the 70,000 strong Southern California Edison archive of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The panel discussion, “Better Living Through Electricity: Los Angeles, 1940–1990,” will double as a preview of the website still under construction. On hand at The Huntington’s Friends’ Hall will be Kris Mun, the project’s web designer, who will give the audience an overview of the site, which will include sets of images selected by more than a dozen authors, critics, and scholars. Each curator has chosen 25 to 30 photographs relating to regional landscape and infrastructural change in Los Angeles according to themes such as “text,” domesticity,” “mobility,” and “noir.”

Joseph Fadler, Wilco Gas & Sieberling Tire Store, 1954. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Joseph Fadler, Wilco Gas & Sieberling Tire Store, 1954. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Four of those curators will share the stage and give sneak peeks of their sections of the website: William Deverell, history professor at University of Southern California and director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West (ICW), will speak about “collisions”; Greg Hise, history professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, covers “scale”; Jessica Kim, a postdoctoral fellow with ICW, explores “foodscapes”; and Peter Westwick, historian at USC and director of The Huntington’s aerospace history project, takes a look at “technology.” Deverell and Hise are also the organizers of the exhibition.

Adding further context will be the last two members of the panel: artist Robbert Flick will situate the archive in the context of documentary traditions in southern California, and L.A. Times architectural critic Christopher Hawthorne will share his own reflections on what it has been like to use the archive.

“Better Living Through Electricity: Los Angeles, 1940–1990” takes place on Monday, April 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Friends’ Hall at The Huntington. The event is free and open to the public.

The next panel discussion, “Inexplicable Los Angeles: Ghosts and Traces, 1940–1990,” takes place at 7 p.m. on April 15 at USC’s Doheny Library. A third panel discussion, “Laboratory for Modernity, Los Angeles, 1940–1990,” will be held at 7 p.m. on July 11 at the Central Branch of the Pasadena Public Library.

Joseph Fadler, Pokey's Restaurant (Beverly Drive at Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles), 1955. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Joseph Fadler, Pokey’s Restaurant (Beverly Drive at Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles), 1955. Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

For more information, visit the website of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens or the website of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

Matt Stevens is editor of Verso and Huntington Frontiers magazine.

One thought on “LECTURES | Better Living Through Electricity

  1. Pingback: » THIS WEEK AT THE H | April 1–8

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>