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On Saturday January 26, The Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) and Otis College of Art and Design Graduate School of Public Practice collaborated to produce a public art event celebrating Main Street's Cecil Hotel as the site of the 1st open AA 12 step meeting in Los Angeles.
The year? 1940!!!

 

Otis College of Art & Design, Public Practice MFA candidates, 2014
Kristy Baltezore, Daniel French, Nicola Goode, Tracee Johnson, Katie Loughmiller
September 2012 began the Otis Public Practice collaboration with Skid Row’s theater and performance collective, the Los Angeles Poverty Department.  The LAPD has maintained a vital artistic voice in the downtown community since 1985, providing Skid Row residents the opportunity to create a narrative of their experiences and connect to the social forces that shape their lives. The first year Otis students worked together with LAPD to launch their new scheduled project, The Biggest Recovery Community Anywhere, which recognizes L.A.’s Skid Row with its 79 weekly 12-step meetings as one of the most significant recovery sites in the country. The collaboration resulted in the screening of a series of recovery themed films at various neighborhood locations, a curated bookshelf of recovery related titles at downtown’s iconic Last Bookstore and culminated on January 26, 2013 in a participatory public event on the 600 block of Main Street in downtown Los Angeles.

Lining the sidewalk in front of The Cecil Hotel, the performance consisted of numerous readers simultaneously sharing stories from a selection of narratives representing the diverse voices of those affected by addiction and recovery.  The specific location was chosen to celebrate the fact that in 1940, a man known simply as Mort. J. rented a mezzanine room in the Cecil Hotel for $5 and held what would be L.A.’s first public Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting.  Readings for the event were gathered from sources including the archive of 12-step co-founder Dr. Bob, in The Robert Holbrook Smith Collection of Books, Manuscripts and Memorabilia at Brown University, published recovery literature and personal recollections of Skid Row residents and Otis students alike.

Following 20 minutes of reading, a procession formed and we gathered in front of The Cecil Hotel to sing Happy Birthday for 73 years of recovery in Los Angeles.  Cake was served, music was played and all were invited to join in the celebration of this small section of a big city and recognize the Biggest Recovery Community Anywhere, which continues to welcome those who seek help.
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PRESS RELEASE

 

 

Otis College of Art and Design collaborates with Los Angeles Poverty Department on performance

 

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) January 16, 2013

WHAT: A celebration of the birth of the L.A. recovery movement in downtown Los Angeles.

 

WHEN: Saturday, January 26, 2013, 12pm-1pm

 

WHERE: Meeting at corner of Main Street and 6th Avenue (600 S. Main St., downtown Los Angeles)

 

 

Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) and students from Otis College of Art and Design's Graduate Public Practice Program team up with downtown residents to throw a surprise birthday party for Alcoholics Anonymous Los Angeles in celebration of AA’s long-term commitment to recovery in the area. January 26th marks the day 72 years ago of the first public meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in downtown, and the celebration will take place at the site of that first meeting - the Cecil Hotel, 640 S. Main St. The event is part of LAPD's yearlong project, “Biggest Recovery Community Anywhere,” focusing on Skid Row.

In 1941, a man named Mort J. started the first public meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Los Angeles. At the time, effective recovery programs were hard to come by for men, and especially rare for women. Sybil C. was the first female AA member in Los Angeles. The movement grew quickly, and during a visit to L.A. in 1943, AA Founder Bill W. was surprised by what he saw. “When I peered out from behind the curtain, I saw a thousand people sitting there … incredible … evidence AA could cross the seas and mountains pretty much on its own," he said. Today, there are hundreds of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step fellowship meetings conducted weekly throughout Southern California.

Since the 1940s, the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown has become a regional resource recognized for its concentration of free and low cost recovery programs, and for the sophisticated recovery consciousness of community residents who live and work in the neighborhood, organizing and sustaining numerous daily meetings and fellowship events.

The January 26 event will include a performance by downtown artists and Otis graduate students.


ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES POVERTY DEPARTMENT
Since 1985, the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) creates performances and multidisciplinary artworks that connect the experience of people living in poverty to the social forces that shape their lives and communities. LAPD’s works express the realities, hopes, dreams and rights of people who live and work in L.A.'s Skid Row.


ABOUT OTIS GRADUATE PUBLIC PRACTICE
The only educational program in the Southern California region dedicated exclusively to providing artists with advanced skills for working in the public sphere, the Program focuses on both collaborative and individual art production. Public practice – also called participatory art, community art, public art, situational art or social sculpture – consists of video, performance, drawing, photography, sculpture and web-based projects. The Program, under the leadership of Suzanne Lacy, the renowned author and artist, educator, theorist of socially engaged public art, prepares students to re-invent traditional media-specific ways of thinking about art making.


ABOUT OTIS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
Founded in Los Angeles in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design prepares diverse students of art and design to enrich the world through their creativity, their skill, and their vision. The College offers an interdisciplinary education for 1200 full-time students, awarding BFA degrees in Advertising, Architecture/Landscape/Interiors, Digital Media, Fashion Design, Illustration, Graphic Design, Product Design, Painting, Photography, Sculpture/New Genres, and Toy Design; and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. Continuing Education offers certificate programs as well as personal and professional development courses. Additional information is available at http://www.otis.edu.

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