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Artist Anthony Lee Pittman Talks Exhibit At New Compton Art & History Museum

  • PublishedApril 1, 2023

Compton, CA–Color Compton, a pioneering Compton non-profit, has opened the doors to their long-awaited Compton Art and History Museum. The opening of the Compton Art and History Museum Feb. 18 reflects the spirit of Color Compton’s mission to create meaningful dialogues around race, history and culture in the city of Compton. The non-profit strives to generate powerful opportunities for growth and collaboration between youth of the community, by sharing the histories of people of color and introducing art as a form of communication.

Abigail Lopez-Byrd co-founded Color Compton in 2019 with her husband Mark, with the goal of bringing programming and curriculum around local art and history to Compton. As a Compton native, Lopez-Byrd is passionate about art and social justice, which is most visible in her work and commitment to her community.

Though the museum is a product of Color Compton, its focus on preserving the city’s past is for the benefit of the entire community, whose residents have achieved so much in the 2 centuries since its establishment in the 19th century. Through interactive experiences and exhibits, the Compton Art and History Museum will strive to honor the city’s traditional and multicultural roots.

The Compton Art & History Museum is a perfect tribute to the great city of Compton. It is located in the same building as Color Compton, so visitors can also learn more about the non-profit as they view the exhibits. Visitors will be pleased to find an impressive collection of artwork and artifacts by local residents that honor Compton’s diverse African American and Latino roots.

The Compton Art & History Museum stands as a tangible reminder of the significance of the city’s past and its role in the present and future. Through events, collections, and educational opportunities, the Compton Art & History Museum allows visitors to explore and understand Compton on an intimate level. This project illustrates Color Compton’s ability to make a lasting impact not just on the culture of the city, but for each individual who visits the museum.

“Sons like me” by Anthony Lee Pittman, is currently on display. We caught up with Pittman to learn more about his journey as an artist, and how he felt to be part of the Compton Art and History Museum opening exhibit.

How did you become involved with the Compton Art & History Museum?

“My involvement with the Compton Museum goes all the way back to an Instagram message from Abigail in 2019. She shared her vision with me about opening up a nonprofit org in Compton dedicated to art and history and I was all for it. She wanted me to design a mural for the space that encapsulated the essence of Compton that we don’t see represented enough. No celebrities and no courthouse! (Lol) From that project going forward, we were able to form a strong friendship, sharing our visions for ourselves and the city. So, fast forward almost 3 years since that mural was created, I was invited to host the first solo exhibit for the Compton Museum.”

How would you describe your style of art?

“I like to align my art with the Afro-Surrealist movement. The term was coined by Amiri Baraka and defined further by D. Scot Miller. My work incorporates several elements from my Black and Latino heritage: catholic imagery and themes deriving from my childhood growing up in a Mexican household (raised by my grandma while my mom worked long hours) spending almost every weekend in church or at catechism, representations of Black male figures of all types, and telling the complex stories of Black folks in America. I also play around with installations often incorporating altars, still life, and floral design.”

Where do you draw inspiration from as an artist?

“Art, history, and music. Compton and Watts, which are home. A lot of my inspiration and motivation comes from looking at the community’s creative history, way past NWA. Seeing the amount of art post-Watts Riots (1965) reminds me that there is a legacy to be continued by the generations that have come after. I look to local artists like Elliott Pinkney, Charles White, John Outterbridge, the Compton Communicative Arts Academy and the Watts Towers Art Center. But also contemporary artists like Titus Kaphar, Kehinde Wiley, and Kerry James Marshall.”

How long will your work be on display at the current exhibit?

“Sons Like Me will be running til May 2023 so there is ample time to come by and check me out!”

How do you feel being part of the opening display of the Compton Museum?

“Extremely honored, beyond words. I feel validated and seen by my community. I used to walk to Compton High and passed that little shopping center every day. The fact that there is a local museum dedicated to art & history, that I’m showing in, down the street from where I learned how to paint is so wild to me. I’m excited to see how the museum transforms after this exhibit closes and I hope to see the community take ownership of this space because this is for us, by us.”

Visit Compton Art and History Museum: 306 West Compton Boulevard, Compton, CA 90220.

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