GIFTED: Collecting the art of California at Gardena High School, 1919-1956
JUly 25, 2020–March 14, 2021
Curated By Susan M. Anderson
The Gardena High School Art Collection is a remarkable collection of early 20th century American art that also stands as one of the best exemplars of a high school art collection in the country. Organized by the GHS Art Collection, Inc. in association with the Gardena High School student body, this exhibition is the first to look at Gardena High School’s ambitious endeavor within a regional and national context.
From 1919 to 1956, the Gardena High School student body selected, purchased, and donated some 70 works of art to the high school. The students’ choices show a high level of sophistication due to the level of discourse in collaboration encouraged at the school and in the community. Gardena High School's exercise in collecting art and organizing a purchase prize exhibition exposed students and their wider community to lessons in aesthetic discernment and art appreciation, as well as debate, good citizenship, and collaboration. And because the collection gained regional and national attention, it inspired other regional public high schools and junior colleges to initiate art collections as well.
For decades, the collection and the effort to preserve its legacy made the high school the center of the community. When Gardena High School moved to a new campus in 1956, the program ended. The collection was quietly locked away on campus, unavailable for viewing by the student body or the public. However, the collection has continued to tie together diverse generations of students and citizens in the city of Gardena and the South Bay area of Los Angeles. The story of how arts engagement can promote civic participation and social tolerance to strengthen the community is woven throughout the history of the collection.
GIFTED: Collecting the Art of California at Gardena High School, 1919-1956 is organized by GHS Art Collection, Inc. in association with the Gardena High School Student Body and curated by Susan M. Anderson.
Many thanks to title sponsors Bram and Sandra Dijkstra.
A 200-page, fully illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition of approximately 75 oil paintings.