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Otis College of Art and Design celebrates 100

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Otis College of Art and Design was founded in 1918, but it’s been renamed and rebranded several times. Photo courtesy of Otis Art Institute.

Otis College of Art and Design turns 100 and hosts a big public celebration this weekend. It's on Veteran's Day weekend because the school has long welcomed vets (with help from the GI Bill).


Otis students, circa 1930, cleaning their classroom under the direction of John Hubbard Rich (left) and Emily Steele.

100 years ago the conservative LA Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis left a house to the County of Los Angeles if they would turn it into an art school.

Now the school is celebrating its centennial with a big public party this Veterans Day weekend.

DnA explores moments in the school’s history, which track with LA’s growth as an art and design capital -- from its founding on Wilshire Boulevard  through its transition from what artist Billy Al Bengston calls its "constipated" years in the 1950s.

Alum Garth Trinidad (yes, that’s KCRW’s own DJ Garth Trinidad) recalls the struggles in the 1990s and remarks on its blossoming in Westchester today.

Edie Beaucage talks about being part of the new generation that has revived painting.


Edie Beaucage represented by Luis De Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Edie Beaucage.

But why is the celebration taking place on Veterans Day Weekend? Vets have long been part of the school’s “ethos” says school president Bruce Ferguson.

Air Force veteran and muralist Darel Carey talks about making the transition from the military to art at Otis, as he paints an Op-Art mural for the school.


Air Force veteran, muralist and Otis alumni Darel Carey tells DnA, “I've never felt when I was in the military like I was part of the establishment... And it's not like I exactly fit in in art school either.” Photo by Frances Anderton.