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Essential Arts: Betye Saar

By Carolina Miranda for LA Times

I’m starting with a throwback: a rendering by Betye Saar for a mural that occupied a wall on Fifth Street in downtown L.A. from 1983 to 1987. Located near the old headquarters of SoCal Edison at the base of Bunker Hill, the work, titled “L.A. Energy,” is now a point of inspiration for an online exhibition of Saar’s works on Organized by Roberts Projects, the show explores notions of spiritual power.

Saar was recently the subject of a solo show at LACMA (which closed prematurely due to the pandemic). In his review, Times art critic Christopher Knight wrote about the ways in which the exhibition called out the “the relationship between assemblage as a specific art form and the larger context of racism that has permeated American life from its beginnings.”

Saar’s art, it turns out, is never not timely.