Watts 1965: Art Against Police

06.23.20

Noah Purifoy and Judson Powell's 66 Signs of Neon

 

In the aftermath of the 1965 Watts Rebellion, six days of rioting in South Los Angeles over police brutality and racial discrimination, Black artists Noah Purifoy and Judson Powell surveyed the physical wreckage and began to pick out the beautiful fragments. Using the artistic practice of assemblage, they transformed found material into expressions of both pain and renewal, artworks as meaningful today as ever. Purifoy and Powell, then teachers at the Watts Tower Art Center, organized a traveling exhibition of art made from the rubble of the Watts riots. Titled 66 Signs of Neon, here are installation views and catalog excerpts.

 

1. Exhibition catalog, Phoenix by Judson Powell (left); Untitled by Max Neufeldt (right).

2. Noah Purifoy installing 66 Signs of Neon exhibition at University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

3. 66 Signs of Neon exhibition at University of California, Los Angeles Courtesy of Noah Purifoy Foundation.

4. Exhibition catalog, Sir Watts by Noah Purifoy.

5. Catalog cover, 66 Signs of Neon, 1966.

6. Catalog cover, 66 Signs of Neon, 1966.

7. 66 Signs of Neon exhibition at University of California, Los Angeles Courtesy of Noah Purifoy Foundation.

8. Exhibition catalog, 66 Signs of Neon.

9. Exhibition catalog, 66 Signs of Neon.

10. Judson Powell, Noah Purifoy, and Sandra Corrie in the exhibition 66 Signs of Neon, University of California, Los Angeles, 1966. Photo by Harry Drinkwater.

 

An exhibition catalog of 66 Signs of Neon can be found as a PDF here.