As we continue to recognize Black History Month, we’d like to guide riders to a Metro Art photo exhibition by artist Janna Ireland at the B (Red) Line’s Universal City/Studio City Station that celebrates the work of the renowned architect Paul R. Williams.
Williams (1894-1980) was the first Black architect to become a member of the American Institute of Architects and built a wildly successful career based in the L.A. area. From the L.A. Conservancy website:
He designed almost 2,000 homes in Los Angeles alone, many for wealthy businessmen and Hollywood stars. Yet he also designed affordable homes, public housing, and a host of civic, commercial, and institutional buildings. Regardless of style or use, his work shared the common threads of elegant composition and perfect proportion.
Williams was part of the LAX planning and design team. His mid-twentieth-century designs include the Los Angeles County Courthouse, the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building, Hillside Memorial Park, Westwood Medical Center, and First AME Church. He renovated the iconic Ambassador Hotel (now demolished) and transformed a supermarket on Wilshire Boulevard into the chic restaurant Perino’s (also demolished).
Williams masterfully navigated the business and social circles of the day. He even learned to draw upside down in order to sketch for clients from across the table—for any white clients who might have been uneasy sitting next to an African American.
“Through his genius and unflagging dedication to his craft, Williams overcame a series of incredible challenges—at times working for clients too prejudiced to shake his hand and designed homes in neighborhoods he wouldn’t have been allowed to live in—to become an emblematic legend of Los Angeles.” -Janna Ireland
About the Artist
JANNA IRELAND (b. 1985, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) earned a Master of Fine Arts from the UCLA Department of Art and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Department of Photography and Imaging at NYU. Ireland’s work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions across the United States and internationally, and is held in the collections of institutions including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California African American Museum and Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Ireland often uses herself and family in personal and editorial work and, in recent years, her practice has expanded to include architectural photography. She is the recipient of a Peter E. Pool Research Fellowship.
About the Photo Lightbox Series
Initiated in 2001, the Metro Art Photo Lightbox Series is a program that produces photography exhibits to engage a broad range of Metro riders on their daily commute. Lightbox displays are comprised of photographic transparencies sequentially arranged on internally illuminated boxes installed at the following Metro stations: 7th St/Metro Center Station, Hollywood/Highland Station, Universal/Studio City Station, Vermont/Beverly Station, and Wilshire/Normandie Station.
About Metro Art
Metro Art enhances the customer experience with innovative, award-winning visual and performing arts programming that encourages ridership and connects people, sites and neighborhoods throughout LA County. A diverse range of site-specific artworks are integrated into the growing Metro system, improving the quality of transit environments and creating a sense of place.