For the first time in its 13-year existence, the Woman's Building has asked men to curate an exhibition.
Ten male collectors, curators and arts administrators each have selected a woman artist whose work is displayed in "Gentlemen's Choice," running through Thursday.
"This is definitely different from anything we have done before," said Terry Wolverton, development director of the Woman's Building.
Founded in 1973 by three women teaching at CalArts, the nonprofit Woman's Building was established to present women's artistic and cultural achievements.
Wolverton said that although men have always been active in the organization by taking classes, serving on the advisory council, attending events and becoming members, the Woman's Building has never had a male curator.
"This is perhaps the start of a new tradition of involving men in the organization and establishing a greater sense of viability for women artists," Wolverton said.
The artists featured and the men who selected them are Dede Bazyk, by Marc Pally of the Community Redevelopment Agency; Pat Berger, by Alan Sieroty of the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission; Jo Ann Callis, by Richard Koshalek of the Museum of Contemporary Art; Judy Fiskin, by Robert Fitzpatrick of CalArts; Mary Jones, by Eli Broad of the Eli Broad Foundation; Rochelle Nicholas, by John Outterbridge of the Watts Towers Arts Center; Betye Saar, by Stanley Grinstein of Gemini G.E.L.; Carolee Schneemann, by Al Nodal of Otis/Parsons; Alexis Smith, by Joel Wachs of the Los Angeles City Council; and Connie Zehr, by Maurice Tuchman of the County Museum of Art.
In addition to displaying work of female artists and showing the relationship of the Woman's Building to the rest of the arts community, Wolverton said the event serves to acknowledge those men who have been supportive of women artists.
According to Wolverton, the organization's board of directors selected men who have either supported the Woman's Building or have "prominence" or a "strong presence" in the arts community.
"We felt these people would pull in some very interesting choices of artists," she said.
A variety of works, including paintings, sculptures, photographs and three-dimensional installations, are on display.
Smith, who called the event "well intentioned," is showing six small collages. "All the people involved are credible. . . . It will be interesting to see the art selected because the appreciation of art is an expression of yourself," she said.
Wachs, who selected Smith, said he believes the event will foster a greater interest in the Woman's Building among men in the community.
"The mere name (Woman's Building) initially may give men a tendency to overlook the Woman's Building, but what they do affects everyone," he said. "Women have had a lot of obstacles in the arts community and it has been tougher for them to be recognized. The Woman's Building helps break down these barriers."
Another participant, Grinstein, who selected Betty Saar, said: "Saar is a good artist who's exciting to be around. She takes a vibrant, intelligent approach to the human condition. I enjoy her company and her art."
Gallery coordinator Lynda Lyons said the exhibit is like a "coming home" for some of the artists whose art has been previously displayed at the Woman's Building.
Berger, who exhibited at the gallery in 1980, said that she is "in good company" in the new show.
"Society is hurt by the absence of a woman's point of view in its culture," Wolverton said. "The kinds of values, experiences and sensibilities that women have are not part of the whole cultural pool, but they should be."