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This exhibition features the work of six former Oklahomans who left the state in the late 1950s for Los Angeles: Patrick Blackwell, Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan, Ed Ruscha, Paul Ruscha, and Mason Williams.


"The Students Five" by Blackwell, Courtesy Hiromi Katayama & Joe Goode

Blackwell, Goode, McMillan, and Ed Ruscha studied at the Chouinard Art Institute and shared a house at 1818 N. New Hampshire. For a brief time, they identified themselves as the “Students Five,” joined at various times by fellow students Wall Batterton and Don Moore, and they sought advertising commissions through a national ad. Each departed Chouinard and the house in the early 1960s to pursue their respective careers. Blackwell worked in advertising, while Goode, McMillan, and Ruscha sought careers as artists.

Williams, a lifelong friend of Ed Ruscha’s, came to prominence in the 1960s as an author, comedian, composer, musician, and poet. Paul Ruscha, Ed’s younger brother, also pursued a career as an artist, relocating permanently to L.A. in 1973.

Their respective contributions in various media suggest the friends held similar sensibilities. The group maintained close relationships that manifested in their work ­­ as collaborations, formal or conceptual parallels, and even “inside jokes.” Although each of the artists took a different path, the intersections between their lives and work over the decades, from their youth in Oklahoma to their relocation to and life in Southern California, constitute a shared history evident in their work over six decades.

This exhibition is possible through grants from the Norman Arts Council and the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

"Mason Williams" by McMillan, Courtesy of the artist
"Dinner for Donald" by Paul Ruscha, Courtesy of the artist
"Untitled" (L.A. Skyline) by McMillan, FJJMA, Gift of Ed and Danna Ruscha