ArtCenter College of Design recently became the new home to a significant collection of work by photographer Jules Bates that documents Los Angeles’ emerging punk, alternative and new wave music scenes from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Additionally, a $1 million donation made by Bates’ sister and brother-in-law will fund both scholarships to educate future generations of photographers and the renovation of an archival facility—set to be completed this summer—that will provide scholars and students further access to the photographs and accompanying materials.
Photographer and ArtCenter alumnus Jules Bates (BFA 78) captured music, entertainment and literary figures such as Charles Bukowski, David Byrne, Howard Devoto, Buckminster Fuller, Pee-wee Herman, Billy Idol, David Lynch and Harry Dean Stanton. As L.A. Weekly’s then youngest ever photo editor, Bates captured important places like the Masque (L.A.’s first punk nightclub, which debuted in 1977, just off Hollywood Boulevard), the Plunger Pit, the Canterbury (an apartment complex whose low rents attracted punk tenants), and the Whisky a Go Go.
Among the more notable images in the collection is DEVO’s Freedom of Choice album cover, which features the new wave band members wearing their signature “energy dome” helmets. This iconic image was created by Bates while part of Artrouble, a business he founded in 1976 with graphic designer David Allen and makeup artist Phyllis Cohen. Described by AnOther magazine as an L.A. collective that defined an era, Artrouble produced many album covers for Devo and other emerging punk bands like The Dickies, new wave bands like Oingo Boingo, The Go-Go’s and The Motels, as well as pop stars like Shaun Cassidy, all of which are represented in the collection.
Bates died in a motorcycle hit and run near his photo studio at Fourth Street and Normandie Avenue in Los Angeles on September 26, 1982. He was 27 years old. In 2008, ArtCenter posthumously presented Bates with an honorary doctorate degree.
To further preserve his legacy, Bates’ sister and brother-in-law, Melissa and Michael Lora, have made a generous $1 million gift to ArtCenter to fund photography student scholarships as well as the renovation of an existing space located at the College’s property at 950 South Raymond Avenue in Pasadena. The renovated space will house a new facility for the College Library’s Archives and Special Collections, which will feature a dedicated research room. The new space within the Archives and Special Collections will be formally named the Jules Bates Artrouble Center in memory of Jules Bates and to honor his prolific collaboration with Allen and Cohen.
“My family and I are so pleased to be able to honor my brother’s memory and his extraordinary yet all-too-short artistic career,” said Melissa Lora who is an ArtCenter Trustee and the former president of Taco Bell International. “We can’t wait to share his stunning photography of an iconic music scene with the world in this delightful new space.”
“We are thrilled to open a dedicated research space to showcase this rich documentation of a pivotal time in music and L.A. history,” said College Librarian Mario Ascencio about the Jules Bates collection, which includes portraits, album covers, sketch pads, prints, self-portraits, and photographs of musicians, the punk scene, fashion models and celebrities. “The Jules Bates collection is the first of its kind ever accepted by ArtCenter.”
“This represents an investment in preserving the music history of a significant 20th-century Southern California scene, for which documentation is rare,” said Jim Heimann, executive editor for TASCHEN America, a cultural anthropologist and historian who also teaches in ArtCenter’s Illustration department. “This places ArtCenter at the leading edge of collecting and preserving imagery from this era and region.”
“This gift will also provide greater access to our collection of rare materials that capture the history of ArtCenter, a place where many notable artists and designers, including Bates, got their start,” said Robert Dirig, director of Archives and Special Collections.
During the next several months of processing the Bates collection, ArtCenter’s Archive team, led by Dirig, will begin cataloging and digitizing the materials. Dirig expects a portion of the collection to be available in the fall for educational purposes, research and selective licensing requests.
“We are very grateful to Melissa, Michael and the family for their generosity and for placing Jules’ valuable work in the archive,” said Lorne M. Buchman, president of ArtCenter. “In addition to creating a new space to explore this valuable work, the funds will provide important scholarships to students – like Jules – who represent our future creative visionaries and who will amplify the impact of ArtCenter on the world.”
About ArtCenter Library’s Archives & Special Collections: The Library’s Archives & Special Collections is the repository for ArtCenter’s history, archival resources, and the rare book collection. It is part of the ArtCenter Library, which actively supports the teaching and research mission of ArtCenter College of Design. With a highly specialized art and design collection, the Library serves as the College’s main collaborative learning environment, where students and faculty from various departments gather to explore, discover and create. It is also open to alumni and external researchers.