The only “teaching” art collection in the hands of a American Community College…and it was given to them by the Master of Macabre himself.
There’s what you know about Vincent Price and who the guy actually was.
Most of you probably know him from the tail of end of the Thriller Video and single, which is a shame since he did so much more. He was actually a straight ahead actor for most of his life, only taking up those semi-serious, semi-comic stuff toward the latter half of his career.
But in the meantime, he collected art…lots of art. He even sold a “Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art” through Sears Roebuck. He (but really Sears) sold about 50,000 pieces of fine art to the general public. Price selected and commissioned works for the collection, including works by Rembrandt, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí. That, according to Wikipedia, was from 1962 to 1971.
But he maintained his own collection, his own passion. And in the end, he gave it all away, to the East Los Angeles College. Why? Nothing too fancy if you think about it. He used to give Commencement addresses on campus. He and his wife fell in love with the place, and he decided that the kids there needed to see works of art up close and in their own neighborhood…for free. So, he donated his collection to them, and it’s now the only Community College in America that has it’s own Art Collection.
So, those of you coming to the Vincent Price Museum expecting to see ghouls and ghosts, or something in the vein of Tim Burton are gong to be disappointed. Still, Mr. Price had very eclectic taste in Art. The permanent collection includes a lot of Mexican fine Artists, who have produced some very striking and varied works. Mr. Price also collected a lot of Mexican Artifacts, bowls, small statues, incense burners, and the like. I can only imagine since Mr. Price was collecting these items at a time when it wasn’t hip or cool to collect these items, that he all but got them during visits to Mexico at ridiculously low prices.
Now, they’re here…at the far end of Monterey Park, in a pretty nice, pretty suburban, pretty working class part of Los Angeles. Young and old Mexican-Americans alike can come here, see a bit of their heritage, and see it for free.
Visiting the Museum is no trick at all. The Museum sits on the edge of campus closest to Atlantic Blvd. (though not on Atlantic itself). It’s part of a large and relatively new Arts complex, where LACMA has been having off-site screenings every once in a while. You walk in. Talk to the Guide at the Front Desk, and work your way through the Exhibits. I’d start at the top floor, with the permanent collection, and wheel your way downstairs. Every floor has something different.
So here’s to Vincent Price and to the Museum that’s been named after him. This is one of Los Angeles’s hidden treasures, one a lot of Angelenos don’t know about. He did good, and did good for all of us.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Mind the hours. The Museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays., but is open a bit later on Thursdays. As I said in the article, I’d start at the top level and work your way downward. There is an elevator just off to the left of the main desk, but you can take the stairs as well.
And remember, the Museum is free, but if you see a donation bucket, do what you can for them.
PARKING: Easy peasy, wonderful and any other words you care to throw in there. The Museum actually sits along Collegian Avenue. First time visitors might notice a sign telling you to park in the Structure a bit further down on Collegian Avenue. If you don’t see it, worry not, I’ve got you covered. Go in there, and park. It’s free, and it’s close to the Museum.
Vincent Price Art Museum
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Tel: (323) 265-8841
Tuesday: 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Wednesday: 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Thursday: 12:00 – 7:00 pm
Friday: 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 – 4:00 pm