Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) 1981


Cowgirl Commandos
Protest against the LACMA Exhibition Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Presented by the Women’s Caucus for the Arts and the Woman’s Building
Organized by Suzanne Lacy and Ruth Weisberg
July 15, 1981

 


 

Excerpt from the Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building exhibition checklist:

Ten years after the successful protest against the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) by the Los Angeles Council of Women Artists (LACWA), LACMA Curator Maurice Tuchman organized another male‐centric exhibition, “Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties.” In 1981, the Women’s Caucus for the Arts (WCA) approached Suzanne Lacy and women from the WB to join forces in protesting the opening night of the exhibition as the Arts Coalition for Equality. According to an article by artist Carol Quint in High Performance (Fall 1981, p. 11): Spokesperson Ruth Weisberg . . . presented the historical background for the demonstration, “The Arts Coalition for Equality (A.C.E.), a coalition of artists, art historians, critics, collectors and art organizations, was formed for the purpose of informing the public and the media of discriminatory practices of the LACMA of art and other issues of importance to the community.” Statistics were distributed, along with other visuals, “Missing in Action” posters, and “Visiona Narrowsa” postcards depicting a deadly curatorial disease.”

Lacy and Weisberg organized the protest to take place during the opening gala reception on July 15, 1981. Cheri Gaulke was invited to participate and initiated the Cowgirl Commandos. Amidst the black‐tie audience, 150+ artists gathered at LACMA donning masks of Maurice Tuchman, and a performance by the masked Cowgirl Commandos (Leslie Belt, Cheri Gaulke, Anita Green, Linda Nishio, and Linda Vallejo), commenced chanting: we draw and we paint / we sculpt and install / we wonder how Tuchman / can ignore it all? / cai yai yippee ai ay ai ay / white boys aint the only ones / making art in L.A.

 


 

“The cowgirl Commandos storm the museum in a humorous protest of an exhibition that excluded women, by the same curator who provoked similar protests in an exhibition in 1970.”

—Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics, 1974–2007, Duke University Press Books, by Suzanne Lacy, ISBN-10: 0822345692, ISBN-13: 978-0822345695, August 24, 2010 (page 162)