Students and Artists Honor Alcoholics Anonymous Recovery Movement in Los Angeles

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Otis College of Art and Design collaborates with Los Angeles Poverty Department on performance

John Malpede

John Malpede of Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD)

When I peered out from behind the curtain, I saw a thousand people sitting there … incredible … evidence AA could cross the seas and mountains pretty much on its own.

WHAT: A celebration of the birth of the L.A. recovery movement in downtown Los Angeles.

WHEN: Saturday, January 26, 2013, 12pm-1pm

WHERE: Meeting at corner of Main Street and 6th Avenue (600 S. Main St., downtown Los Angeles)

Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) and students from Otis College of Art and Design's Graduate Public Practice Program team up with downtown residents to throw a surprise birthday party for Alcoholics Anonymous Los Angeles in celebration of AA’s long-term commitment to recovery in the area. January 26th marks the day 72 years ago of the first public meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in downtown, and the celebration will take place at the site of that first meeting - the Cecil Hotel, 640 S. Main St. The event is part of LAPD's yearlong project, “Biggest Recovery Community Anywhere,” focusing on Skid Row.

In 1941, a man named Mort J. started the first public meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Los Angeles. At the time, effective recovery programs were hard to come by for men, and especially rare for women. Sybil C. was the first female AA member in Los Angeles. The movement grew quickly, and during a visit to L.A. in 1943, AA Founder Bill W. was surprised by what he saw. “When I peered out from behind the curtain, I saw a thousand people sitting there … incredible … evidence AA could cross the seas and mountains pretty much on its own," he said. Today, there are hundreds of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step fellowship meetings conducted weekly throughout Southern California.

Since the 1940s, the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown has become a regional resource recognized for its concentration of free and low cost recovery programs, and for the sophisticated recovery consciousness of community residents who live and work in the neighborhood, organizing and sustaining numerous daily meetings and fellowship events.

The January 26 event will include a performance by downtown artists and Otis graduate students.

ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES POVERTY DEPARTMENT
Since 1985, the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) creates performances and multidisciplinary artworks that connect the experience of people living in poverty to the social forces that shape their lives and communities. LAPD’s works express the realities, hopes, dreams and rights of people who live and work in L.A.'s Skid Row.

ABOUT OTIS GRADUATE PUBLIC PRACTICE
The only educational program in the Southern California region dedicated exclusively to providing artists with advanced skills for working in the public sphere, the Program focuses on both collaborative and individual art production. Public practice – also called participatory art, community art, public art, situational art or social sculpture – consists of video, performance, drawing, photography, sculpture and web-based projects. The Program, under the leadership of Suzanne Lacy, the renowned author and artist, educator, theorist of socially engaged public art, prepares students to re-invent traditional media-specific ways of thinking about art making.

ABOUT OTIS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
Founded in Los Angeles in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design prepares diverse students of art and design to enrich the world through their creativity, their skill, and their vision. The College offers an interdisciplinary education for 1200 full-time students, awarding BFA degrees in Advertising, Architecture/Landscape/Interiors, Digital Media, Fashion Design, Illustration, Graphic Design, Product Design, Painting, Photography, Sculpture/New Genres, and Toy Design; and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. Continuing Education offers certificate programs as well as personal and professional development courses. Additional information is available at http://www.otis.edu.

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John Axtell, Media Relations
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