by Louis Jacinto

“The Anti-World War III Show” in 1980 was the first art show I exhibited in. 

I had already been shooting photographs since 1973, but really hit a stride in 1977 when I began to shoot the punk rock music bands in Los Angeles.  Man, that was a time.  The great Patti Smith was absolutely right when she sang, “this is the era where everybody creates!”

But I had never been in any art show prior to 1980.  I can’t recall where I read about the Anti-World War III show, but I know the curators were asking for submissions.  I also recall that there was no fee involved.  I submitted 3 images.  Actually, they were collages.  I had photographed Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and John Anderson off of the television set.  I used black and white film and it was that time before the current flat screens, so the end result image always had those beautiful video scans that the film captured.

I then added word or thought bubbles, like you see in comic strips, to each of the 3 images where they either said, “My name is World War III” or “His name is World War III”.

The show opened in Berkeley then traveled to Venice, California.  I don’t know where the show went after that, or where the images are now.  Hopefully, not discarded.  My cousin Theresa Carbajal was living in the Bay Area back then and she saw the show in Berkeley and sent me some shots she took of my work in the exhibit.  I’ve got to dig those pictures up.

It’s not that I had forgotten about that show, but I was reminded two years ago during the Pacific Standard Time:  Art In L.A. 1945 – 1980 art survey, when the show, “Under The Big Black Sun” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles had the Anti-World War III Art Show poster in this particular exhibition. “I was in that show”, I said to my partner, Kene Rosa, as I pointed to the poster.  I have a copy of that poster somewhere; I’ll have to dig that up, too.

So I continued to exhibit, not on a grand scale, but exhibit none the less.  I was also in an art collective during the latter half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s.  But one of the most exciting experiences in this early part of my exhibition career occurred when I entered, for the first time, the annual All City Open at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park. 

Back then, the City would have an open call for artists and if you were one of the first 1,500 artists, and you had the fee, you were in the show.

At that time I had just completed a body of work where I had photographed the word, “Los Angeles” as it appeared in the environment.  I then hand tinted the black and white prints.  The day of the opening I went to the show, naturally, and my sister Susie and her husband John joined me, as they had driven into town to spend the weekend with me.

I had noticed that my photograph had a ribbon next to it, but doh doh bird me, I didn’t connect the ribbon with being one of the winners.  I thought the jurors liked the work and they placed a ribbon on it.  But during the ceremony, my name was called and I was one of 10 winners and I was given a check for $100.  It was wonderful!  And back in the 1980s, $100 was a large amount of money!

This annual event now occurs every two years, and I continue to participate in it.  I believe it’s a great cause that supports the City Art Gallery, which never charges admission, and it’s also great camaraderie to be standing line with all the other artists.  Of course, a lot of the work is just terrible, but hey, not everybody likes what I do, so it’s a real level playing grown.

This summer the call is out again.  I’m going to enter, along with some other friends.  You should too!  Click here for more information, and I hope to see you there!  And may you, and I, win! 

Below is the winning photograph all those years ago.  This is not the original hand tinted version, that piece is in the home of a friend in New Mexico now!