Agnes Lew Interviews Los Angeles Art Icon Betye Saar on Her 94th Birthday
By Agnes Lew
“Viewing art is a sort of meditative experience, especially during these uncertain times,” says Agnes Lew, East West Bank’s senior vice president and head of private banking, and resident art aficionado. “Art is very therapeutic for someone like me who has trouble slowing down and always has a long to-do list.”
Lew is interviewing artists in a collaboration with the Gallery Association Los Angeles to bring more awareness to the local art community during the pandemic. Eighty-one galleries have come together to build an online space during the shut-down to encourage more art viewing and engagement for local and international audiences. This online space, called Gallery Platform LA, showcases 10 gallery “viewing rooms” and a curated project on a rotating basis every eight weeks. East West Bank is a proud sponsor of Gallery Platform LA.
In the latest edition of her artist series, she features Betye Saar, Los Angeles’ own contemporary art legend and one of the most respected artists of her generation. An African American artist who just turned 94, Saar grew up in Los Angeles and is well-known for her assemblage and collage pieces. Her most recent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, titled “The Legends of Black Girl’s Window,” showcases an array of her printmaking works that follows themes of family, history and mysticism. Gifted in storytelling and having participated in the Black Arts Movement during the 1970s, Saar often engaged in politics and challenged traditional narratives around race and femininity.
An exhibition featuring her work, “Betye Saar: Call and Response,” was recently on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition will travel to The Morgan Library and Museum in New York later this fall.
“I had read a lot about her work, but my first close encounter with Betye was at the Institute of Contemporary Art luncheon when she was honored,” says Lew. “Her eloquent speech helped me understand her oeuvre better, and I thought she was the best dressed and coolest person in the room!”
Saar shares her journey as an artist, sources of inspiration, advice to budding artists and her color palette for gardening.