This post is about the continuous project of our rulers aimed at degrading the art in general, which is the subject Miles has written about extensively. More accurately, this post is about the institution sparked into existence by one US Army General and everything that fell out of the closet while surfing the net for answers.
As it turned out later in his career, the same general became the president and general manager of the Times-Mirror Company, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.
Yes, you read that correctly, so let me immediately lead on with Wikipedia:
»On December 23, 1916, General Harrison Gray Otis, donated his spacious Wilshire Boulevard home across the street from MacArthur Park, known as the Bivouac, to Los Angeles County to be used “continuously and perpetually for the Arts and advancement of the Arts.” The Otis Art Institute of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art eventually became Otis College of Art and Design.«
It came as a small surprise for me, to be honest, but this entry proved to be a real gem.
Who was General Harrison Gray Otis?
He was one of the many children of Stephen and Sarah Dyer Otis. Mother’s parents are scrubbed at Geni.com, but on his paternal side we can trace Harrison’s grandmother as Mehitable S. Otis, neè Turner. The family tree is full of names such as Abel, Benjamin, Moses, Hannah, Sarah, Samuel, Jacob, which suggests their Jewish origins.
It is also interesting to look at the etimology of word »otis, Otis«. Outis (transliteration of Ancient Greek Οὖτις, in capitals ΟΥΤΙΣ, from οὔτις “nobody” or “no one”) is an often used pseudonym. Wikipedia even admits that artists, writers and others in public life use this pseudonym in order to hide their identity.
Even Teddy Roosevelt, about whom Josh extensively wrote in his disclosure of Smedley Butler and his stooges, once said about Otis that:
»the attitude of General Otis in his paper affords a curious instance of the anarchy of soul which comes to a man who, in conscienceless fashion, deifies property at the expense of human rights.”
Returning to my statement from the beginning of this post, you may be wondering how do I know Otis (No name) College of Art and Design promoted bad art? The answer is quite simple, let’s look at some of most distinguished alumni and their promoted work:
Ralston Crawford (1906–1978)
Edith Head (1897 – 1981), born Edith Claire Posener
Artur Gill Gilbert (1893-1970)
Philip Guston (1913 – 1980), born Phillip Goldstein . He was a painter and printmaker in the New York School, an art movement that included many abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.
John Altoon (1925 – 1969)
George Chann (1913 – 1995)
Robert Irwin (1928) is an American installation artist.
True, they are based on a personal whim, rather than any reason – the very definition of this above art thing.
John Mason (1927) is »recognized for his focus and steady investigation of mathematical concepts relating to rotation, symmetry, and modules as well as his formal innovation with the ceramic medium«. Let’s see….
Tom Van Sant (1931)
Lawrence Gipe (1961)
Alison Saar (1956)
I think you get the point about No Name Otis College of Art and Design, their alumni or the quality standard of art promoted. Oh, the Economist ranked them as 6th (my emphasis):
»among national universities in its 2015 ranking of the U.S. best colleges for ‘Value of Education’ based on sophisticated evaluation method and by alumni earnings above expectation. Money Magazine ranked Otis fourth for “Best Value Added College.”
You got to laugh, really.
Another interesting group of artists formed at Otis College comes with a brand name »Los Four«. »They were instrumental in bringing Chicano Art to the attention of the mainstream art world«, says Wikipedia about them (note the word instrumental).
The Chicano artist collective Los Four originally consisted of Frank Romero (b. 1940), Carlos Almaraz (1941–1989), Robert de la Rocha (b. 1937) and founder Gilbert Luján (1940–2011). They were later joined by Judithe Hernandez, who was introduced to them by Luján.
So what about their art?
It is said that they made history in 1974 when they were invited by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to showcase their art in their own exhibit. The exhibit titled Los Four: Almaraz, de la Rocha, Lujan, Romero was the first Chicano exhibit to be featured in a mainstream museum.
But what about their art?
This above picture is the best I could find, next to the following in black & white, where Los Four are standing in front of their artwork:
The picture itself is awful in quality, but so is the mural behind them.
Robert (Beto) Isaac de la Rocha is a descendant of Hassidic Jews coming from Spain, although Wikipedia claims he was a Sephardic Jew. In any case it is a story going back to 15th century Spain and Jews’ expulsion from there, which is another issue well worth researching. But I will leave it for another post. Anyway, I failed in finding any of Beto’s artwork on the net. What I could find though is Beto’s patrilineal ancestry traced back to his fifth great-grandfather, Juan Ignacio de la Rocha.
The most interesting finding is coming from Beto’s son, Zack de la Rocha , with full name Zacharias Manuel de la Rocha. He was the frontman of a former band called Rage Against The Machine (RATM). In one short speech found on Youtube, Zack explained as if his grandfather (not clear which one) was a victim of Mexican revolution. It is not clear to which extent was his grandfather involved in it, although Wikipedia suggests that he was indeed a revolutionary. In any case, it wasn’t his grandfather, who was still a child from 1910 – 20 while the revolution lasted. In addition to what I found on Geni, he has no grandfather born in the place which was mentioned in the speech, which implies two things: either he’s not telling the truth or Geni has got it all wrong. If you take a look at the video of his speech, he touched his nose twice and grabbed his left ear within 15-second timeframe, all while explaining it. You can judge for yourself about his honesty here (starts at mark 1m:32s; funny, that summed together (1+32) equals masonic number 33).
Anyway, RATM lyrics are mostly about the revolutionary view, and the band (RATM) are vocal supporters of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), especially Zacharias De la Rocha, who has taken several trips to the Mexican state of Chiapas to aid their efforts. The flag of the EZLN serves as the primary recurring theme in the band’s visual art.
With the story of EZLN which reads like a classic Intelligence covert operation – foment a dissent among the people, then give them hope to successfully resolve their issue with the help of revolutionary spirit, which is of course – controlled.
We can learn at Wikipedia EZLN entry, that the organization was led by one guy:
»Subcomandante Marcos was the nom de guerre used by Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente (born 19 June 1957), Mexican insurgent and former leader and spokesman of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) during the Chiapas conflict. Although allegedly from a middle-class family, he went to Jesuit school, later majoring in philosophy. If you are wondering about his political character – he was a Marxist. For in-field practice he went to become a »militant in the Maoist National Liberation Forces«.
With the style of a classic revolutionist, »he went to the mountains of Chiapas to convince the poor, indigenous Mayan population to organize and launch a proletarian revolution against the Mexican bourgeoisie and the federal government«.
This is laughable, but what we can read next is really amusing:
»After hearing his proposition, the Chiapanecs “just stared at him,” and replied that they were not urban workers, and that from their perspective the land was not property, but the heart of the community«.
Nevertheless, his ideology prevailed and although an outcast, he was able to publish his writings (with support from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, for instance) and get publicly recognized.
Marcos was naturally convicted as an enemy of the state, but was never caught or imprisoned. Wikipedia explains how it was done:
»It is known that the real founders of the EZLN foco were the brothers Fernando (a.k.a. German) and Cesar (a.k.a. Pedro) Yañez-Muñoz, who were previously part of the FLN guerrillas. Marcos took over the remnants of the FLN after Pedro was killed and German captured«.
There are several rumors that Marcos left Mexico in the mid 1980’s to go to Nicaragua to serve with the Sandinistas under the nom de guerre El Mejicano. After leaving Nicaragua in the late 1980’s, he returned to Mexico and helped form the EZLN with support from the Sandinistas and the Salvadoran leftist guerrilla group FMLN. Since Subcomandante took over, the »fighters« were mostly engaged in diplomatic talks with the Mexican government. During the whole time of EZLN »their activities were reported years before the uprising in what is considered one of Mexico’s most important magazines, Proceso, which the Mexican Government had tried to cover it up«.
Marcos has used several other pseudonyms; he referred to himself as Delegate Zero during the 2006 Mexican Presidential Campaign, and in May 2014 announced that Subcommandante Marcos “no longer exists,” adopting the name Subcomandante Galeano instead.
 I found another Harrison Gray Otis while searching for the General Otis. The other Gray Otis’ biography reads as much spooky, you can read about him here http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=O000127. He is as well listed among the Boston Brahmin families here
A transcript interview with Carlos Almaraz (, where he says:” He claimed to be a Hassidic Jew from Spain. He said his family was originally from Spain. And you kind of believed it, that he was a very unusual kind of person, very delicate and very bright, very sensitive, and a wonderful artist. He originally worked for Gemini and pulled some of the prints for Rauschenberg, Stella, and some of the big major-league people, and had that kind of reputation, was much respected.”