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More Art and Activism

"A Wonderfully Exhausting Day"

About Peter Carr

Editor’s grateful note:  Friends, colleagues, political comrades, Citric Acid readers, and, well, anybody who has spent five minutes with me, has read about or heard me rhapsodize, lecture, proselytize or otherwise go on and on about my weird and singular mission of making the late artist and activist Harry Lawson “Peter” Carr immortal.  I received the best gift a former student, disciple, and self-appointed curator of Peter’s work could get in the person of one James MacDevitt, who invited me to Cerritos College Art Gallery, where he is the director.  I met him one afternoon a few months back, hoping that maybe Professor MacDevitt might purchase one of Peter’s paintings for the college’s collection but instead he offered the gallery for a show, tentatively scheduled October 23 through December 13. This is a big deal. The gallery recently featured a multi-platform exhibition of work by the legendary Gronk!         

A few weeks ago, James visited our home, where hundreds of Carr’s paintings, posters, and drawings hang on the walls or are otherwise stored, then braved the Mission Viejo self-storage unit (in the sage scrub, below the toll road, and adjacent the notorious megachurch) where he insisted I show him more and more and more of Peter’s work. I obliged, if concerned I might scare him away.

The next morning, I was delighted at his short if perfect Facebook post, which I reprint here, including the photos he shared. In Professor MacDevitt, Peter and I have found a champion, a friend, and an art curator who immediately, it seems, got it. You know what I will be doing the next weeks and months: further research, sorting, putting together the pieces of Peter’s life and work and activism in notes toward composing a lecture and contributing to the show’s catalog. And loving every moment of it! Of course, I welcome help from writers, artists, activists, publicity-wise folks, and anybody who might volunteer some time to this unlikely if long hoped-for opportunity.


 Spent a wonderfully exhausting day with Andrew Tonkovich, retired UCI Lecturer and current editor of the Santa Monica Review, digging deep into his massive personal archive of drawings, paintings, and notebooks by his mentor, former CSULB literature professor, Peter Carr (1925-1981). Carr was a poet, activist, and fascinating outsider artist who created truly evocative and expressionistic images, many of them explicitly political (he founded the Orange County chapter of Artists for Survival) and/or inscribed with his own poetic fragments. A long-time resident of Laguna Beach, a number of the works focus on his social observations of everyday life along the coast in the '60s and '70s, including his own activism against the encroachment of the nuclear and military-industrial complex into the region. Excited to spend more time with this little-known body of work this summer (the images below barely scratch the surface), along with the gallery’s Getty Marrow curatorial intern, Elizabeth Lieb, which will ultimately result in a comprehensive retrospective at the gallery later this year.

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