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Brockman Gallery Archive
LA MSS 0002  
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Brockman Gallery, located in a storefront in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles and founded by artists and brothers Alonzo Davis and Dale Brockman Davis, was at the root of a community of Black artists from 1967-1990. The gallery, one of the first Black art galleries in the United States, was named for the brothers’ grandmother, Della Brockman. It was, for a time, supported by their work in arts education as teachers at Manual Arts High School (Alonzo) and Dorsey High School (Dale). A goal of the gallery was to bring Black artists into the mainstream of the fine art world through exhibitions, sales, and collecting. Its role was to provide encouragement and a venue for living artists, and to promote a greater public awareness of Black artists. This was achieved through partnerships with community organizations and businesses, sales to collectors and art institutions, and by exhibiting work in a wide variety of mediums and prices. The gallery promoted multiculturalism and drew visitors and artists from many communities, including other minority artists and whites. Local artists including Betye Saar, Timothy Washington, Charles White, John Riddle, John Outterbridge, Varnette Honeywood, Judy Baca, Willie Herron, and Kent Twitchell exhibited work at the gallery. Nationally known artists were exhibited as well, including Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, David Hammons, and Jacob Lawrence. Alonzo and Dale Davis established Brockman Productions in 1973, a non-profit organization that received funding from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs department, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Brockman Gallery was named for Della Brockman. The family name dates back to the 1850s, to the great-grandfather of Dale and Alonzo Davis, Aaron Brockman. He was the son of an enslaved Black woman and was born in the Brockman mansion in Greenville, South Carolina. Aaron’s oldest daughter, Della Brockman, was educated at Clark University in Atlanta, where she met and married Stephen E. Moses. The couple moved to Alabama and established themselves as educators, a value and livelihood that was embraced and practiced by future generations. The Brockman family name is meaningful to Dale and Alonzo Davis as part of their family history as Black Americans. Dale Brockman Davis and Alonzo Davis spent much of their childhood growing up near Tuskegee University in Alabama, where their father was a professor of psychology. Alonzo J. Davis earned a master's degree from Howard University and was a Professor of Psychology at Tuskegee Institute. Agnes Lewis Moses Davis graduated from Talladega College, and taught at the Birmingham Public School. Her parents were the educators Prof. S.E. Moses and Mrs. S.E. Moses. Following the divorce of their parents, Dale and Alonzo moved with their mother, Agnes Moses Davis, to Los Angeles from Tuskegee, Alabama in 1955 as part of the Great Migration. Agnes Moses Davis, the mother of Dale and Alonzo, also known as Chief, and their aunt, Louise J. Moses, were engaged supporters of Brockman Gallery, and influential community leaders in their own right. Louise Moses and Agnes Davis were charter members of the California Librarians Black Caucus. Before passing, the sisters were continual supporters of the Caucus. Louise Moses was employed by the Los Angeles County Public Library and developed innovative reading programs for young people at Juvenile Hall and in the Compton community. Louise Moses ended her career as a Supervisor of the AC Bilbrew Library, a Los Angeles County Public Library. Agnes Davis was a Children’s Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library.
16.59 cubic feet; 17 boxes (10 archival bankers boxes, 5 Hollinger legal document boxes, 2 oversize boxes); 219.5 GB of digital files.
This collection is open for research by appointment only in the Rare Books reading room. Information about setting appointments can be arranged by sending an email inquiry to rarebook [at] lapl.org and additional information can be found on the Library’s website: https://www.lapl.org/branches/rarebooks.