Leo Krikorian

The Beat era artist and Black Mountain College alumnus Leo Krikorian (1922-2005) was a San Francisco based artist and film maker at mid century. After graduating Black Mountain College he arrived in the San Francisco to study at the California School of Fine Art and founded the notable North Beach, bar The Place in San Francisco's North Beach in 1953 with his friend and fellow Black Mountain alumna the artist Knute Stiles. Krikorian gave Jay DeFeo her first show as well as exhibiting Wally Hedrick, the artist known as Jess and many other Beat era artists. The Place saw Jack Spicer, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac as regulars and it was a key epicenter of the lively years that altered the course of American culture. The Place held regular art shows notably showing Wally Hedrick who built movable works of assemblage throughout the space. Allen Ginsberg rehearsed Howl there and the place hosted a Blabbermouth night where Bob Kaufman and many other Beat era artists and poets held spontaneous orations and Jack Spicer held court. These Blabbermouth tapes were recorded by Krikorian and have been transferred by the curatorial for research and exhibition. Krikorian had a vast archive preserved in Utah which was largely unopened. Laura Whitcomb organized books, ephemera, catalogues, photos, personal papers, art sound recordings, films and ephemera highlighting key works for an exhibition. Art work and artists were identified to distinguish the collection. Curators were able to organize a show based on the selection of critical works and scholarly material to enrich his oeuvre. Many materials contextualized and discovered by Whitcomb were included in his retrospective at Dixie State University's Sears Art Museum in 2018. The research formed the basis of the approaching publication Bay Area Artist and Poet Run Galleries 1949-1965.