LEGACY

Big crowd outside waiting to pick up tickets. Robert Wilson is the name in New York avant-garde theater just now and he has never before done a piece in Los Angeles. Kenneth Tynan is here, Gordon Davidson and Ed Parone from the Taper, Ron Sossie from the Odyssey. . . . We leave, not enraged, not enraptured. A voice heard in the mind, Andy Warhol’s when asked what he thought of the 1970s: I like them because they’re so empty.  —Dan Sullivan, Los Angeles Times, 1977

Some Serious Business (SSB) was founded at the height of the Conceptual 1970s by Nancy Drew, Elizabeth Freeman, and Susan Martin in catalytic response to Conceptualism’s West Coast explosion of live performance events, video screenings, installations, new music, dance, punk concerts, guerilla exhibitions—and combinations thereof that defy easy categorization.

Established as “a nonprofit fine arts resource center and support facility for artists working principally in the fields of performance, videotape, installation and environmental works, and photography,” SSB quickly became a producer of firsts. From a full-scale Orgies Mysteries Theatre production by Viennese Actionist Hermann Nitsch deep in the heart of Venice to John Cage’s Empty Words at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, from Laurie Anderson’s inaugural performance in L.A. at Otis Art Institute to the first exhibition of work by Jenny Holzer and Louise Lawler, and from punk rock concerts on Hope Street to Philip Glass Ensemble at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip, SSB took artists and audiences out of their comfort zones and into a space of unimagined possibility.

Between 1976 and 1980, SSB produced close to 50 performance events fostering an international conversation with wide-ranging creators—many at the earliest stages of their careers: Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Jenny Holzer, Phillip Glass, Louise Lawler, Lynda Benglis, Hermann Nitsch, Bob and Bob, Glenn Branca, Ping Chong, Carla Bley, Lee Breuer, Guy de Cointet, Constance DeJong, Douglas Dunn, John Gibson, Deborah Hay, Harry Kipper, Robert Kushner, Gary Lloyd, Robert Longo, Linda Montano, Nam June Paik, Steve Reich, Rachel Rosenthal, Carl Stone, T.R. Uthco, William Wegman, Lawrence Weiner, Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs, and more.

An “alternative space” without a permanent, fixed location, SSB used the entire city of Los Angeles as a generative resource—partnering with established art and presenting organizations, but also producing performances on Venice Beach; in parking lots, hotel rooms, deserted skyscrapers and derelict buildings; on broadcast television; even on Amtrak trains.

The era was a time of tectonic shifts and called for unique solutions to the particular requisites of artists, as resources for these groundbreaking creators were particularly limited on the West Coast. A core participant in Los Angeles’ extraordinary diversity and growth in artistic production and collaboration, SSB instigated support systems and rounded up whatever was needed for pioneering artistic events by learning what it could from conventional museum, entertainment, and media practices—then inventing the rest.

SSB was based on the principle that the artist always comes first. SSB engaged in a process with creators, partners, and audiences where outcomes were sometimes unknown. “We’re a telephone,” the founders were fond of saying. “A conduit of energy. Anybody can do what we do. What do you need? We’ll help find it!” That “can do” spirit, nose for talent, and sense of fun was part of the journey. To connect people and art—to give them a peak experience, to surprise, delight, disturb—was SSB’s intention and it continues to be the driving force behind the organization’s trajectory into the future.   

 

SSB ARCHIVED EVENTS

  • Peter Wiehl

    ARROWCATCHER

    Performance 73 Market Street, Venice, CA December 11, 1976
  • Peter Ivers, Buell Neidlinger and Richard Green

    FLAME AND THE DILLYS

    Concert 200 Westminster, Venice, CA January 15, 1977
  • Lawrence Weiner

    GREEN AS WELL AS BLUE AS WELL AS RED, 1975/76; A BIT OF MATTER AND A LITTLE BIT MORE, 1976

    Videotape Screening 230 San Juan, Venice, CA February 1977
  • Robert Biggs, Billy Adler, and Van Schley

    ON VIEW

    Exhibition of videotapes and photographs at the College Art Convention Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA February 2, 3, 4, 1977
  • Joan Logue

    VALENTINE’S DAY 1977

    Video Portraits 9 Dudley Avenue, Venice, CA February 14, 1977
  • Kevin Boyle

    RETRACE

    Performance James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles, CA March 1977
  • Nam June Paik

    GUADACANAL: A REQUIEM

    Midnight videotape screening & event 73 Market Street, Venice, CA March 5, 1977
  • Philip Glass and Ensemble

    PHILIP GLASS AND ENSEMBLE

    Concert in collaboration with the UCLA Committee on Fine Arts Productions Schoeneberg Hall, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, CA March 15, 1977
  • Pat Patterson

    TIGHTROPE

    Performance and installation Century Plaza Towers, Los Angeles, CA March 17, 1977
  • William Wegman

    TALK AND TV

    Videotape screening Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA April 15, 1977
  • Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs

    I WAS SITTING ON MY PATIO THIS GUY APPEARED I THOUGHT I WAS HALLUCINATING

    Play Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles, CA April 19, 1977
  • Linda Montano

    A DAY OF MASSAGE ON VENICE BEACH

    Performance 76 Market Street, Venice, CA May 7, 1977
  • Kevin Boyle

    NO SALE

    Performance Vanguard Gallery, Los Angeles, CA May 31, 1977
  • Robert Biggs

    51%

    Video art on broadcast television / 30 second spot Today Show, KNBC-TV, Channel 4 May 30 and June 3, 1977
  • Harry Kipper

    TO START WITH

    Performance 1338 West Washington, Venice, CA July 16, 1977
  • Lowell Darling

    LOWELL SOLVES WORLD PROBLEMS

    Performance “Lecture” Venice Pavilion, Venice, CA July 29, 1977
  • John Gibson

    SOLO CONCERT

    Flute and saxophone concert I.D.E.A. Studio, Santa Monica, CA September 3, 1977
  • Brian Dailey

    VICE

    Performance Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA September 7, 8, 9, 1977
  • Bill Moritz

    BRANCHES

    Filmic environment 76 Market Street, Venice, CA October 1, 1977
  • Douglas Dunn

    SOLO DANCE CONCERT

    Dance concert I.D.E.A. Studio, Santa Monica, CA October 12, 1977
  • Lynda Benglis and Stanton Kaye

    THE AMAZING BOW WOW

    Videotape screening 73 Market Street, Venice, CA October 15, 1977
  • Eiko and Koma

    WHITE DANCE (Butoh)

    Dance concert Pilot Theatre, Los Angeles, CA October 21, 22, 1977
  • Guy de Cointet and Robert Wilhite

    RAMONA

    Play in collaboration with the Baxter Art Gallery, California Institute of Technology Gates Hall, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA October 28, 29, 1977
  • Rick Schmidt

    SHOWBOAT 1988: THE REMAKE

    Film screening Fox Venice Theatre, Venice, CA October 31, 1977
  • Paul Sharits

    FILM SCREENING AND LECTURE

    Film screening and lecture 73 Market Street, Venice, CA November 5, 1977
  • T.R. Uthco

    REALLY I’VE NEVER DONE ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE

    Performance Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA November 12, 1977
  • Debra Hay

    SOLO DANCE CONCERT

    Dance concert Storie-Crawford Studio, Santa Monica, CA December 10, 1977
  • Constance de Jong

    MODERN LOVE AND THE LUCY AMARILLO STORIES

    Performance Janus Gallery, Venice, CA February 3, 1978
  • Bob and Bob

    BRACE YOURSELF FOR ACTION

    Performance Ruth Schaffner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA February 5, 1978
  • Lewis Stein

    FILM SCREENING

    Film Screening 73 Market Street, Venice, CA March 1, 1978
  • Laurie Anderson

    FOR INSTANTS

    Performance Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA March 17, 1978
  • Hermann Nitsch

    ORGIES MYSTERY THEATRE

    Performance in collaboration with the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art 208 Westminster, Venice, CA April 8, 1978
  • Toshi Ichiyangi

    TOSHI ICHIYANGI

    Piano concert with electronic music and film Dickson Auditorium, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, CA April 9, 1978
  • Robert Biggs

    IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT

    Performance 11 Navy Street, Venice, CA May 5, 1978
  • Richard Basil Mock

    YOUR PORTRAIT

    Individual portrait painting sessions and installation Otis Art Institute Gallery, Los Angeles, CA May 18 – June 11, 1978
  • Richard Miller

    (LOOKING AT TAR FROM A STOOP)

    Performance 76 Market Street, Venice, CA September 9, 1978
  • Jimmie West

    CON INDE SELECTRIC

    Performance 340 South Main Street, Venice, CA September 16, 1978
  • X, The Plugs, and Hal Negro and the Satintones

    ROCK CONCERT

    Rock concert in collaboration with J. Ruby Productions Hope Street Hall, Los Angeles, CA September 22, 1978
  • Robert Kushner and Ellen Saltonstahl

    LAYERS

    Performance I.D.E.A. Studio, Santa Monica, CA October 21, 1978
  • Gary Lloyd

    THEY: AN ANSWER DRIVING THE PROBLEM

    Performance and installation Vanguard Gallery, Los Angeles, CA October 27, 28, 29, 1978
  • Phillip Glass Ensemble

    PHILLIP GLASS ENSEMBLE

    Concert in collaboration with The Roxy Theatre The Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles, CA November 15, 16, 1978
  • Carla Bley

    THE CARLA BLEY BAND

    Concert Schoenberg Hall, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, CA February 12, 1979
  • Steve Reich

    STEVE REICH AND MUSICIANS

    Concert in collaboration with the U.C.L.A. Committee on Fine Arts Productions Schoenberg Hall, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, CA March 3, 4, 1979
  • John Cage

    EMPTY WORDS

    Performance in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Bing Theatre, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA March 27, 1979
  • David Amico, Fred Dolan, Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler, Jeffrey Lohn, Peter Nadin, Joe Potts, and Jane Reynolds

    INDIVIDUAL AND COLLABORATIVE WORKS BY NINE ARTISTS

    Group show of installation art curated by Jane Reynolds 626 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA June 23 – July 18, 1979
  • Nigel Cooper and Noel Korten

    THE ART OF TRAVELING

    Amtrak Train Installation of Poloroid pictures by Nigel Cooper and Noel Korten The Coast Starlight Train, Los Angeles, CA to Seattle, WA July 1 – September 1, 1979
  • Glenn Branca, Remy Charlip, Ping Chong, Rachel Rosenthal, Robert Longo, Lin Hixson, and Carl Stone

    THE ART OF SPECTACLE

    Produced in collaboration with Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in galleries, theaters, hotels and warehouses around Los Angeles. October–December 1984
  • Lee Breuer

    THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS

    Presented in collaboration with Theatre Group Inc., in association with Liza Lorwin James A. Doolittle Theater, Los Angeles, CA November 27–December 15, 1985
legacy-image