In the 1960s, while Andy Warhol busily silk-screened in his metallic Manhattan Factory, Sister Mary Corita was becoming the Left Coast's pop-art superstar.
This art professor and nun made bright silk screens in a one-room cinder block workshop at Los Feliz's Immaculate Heart College, once a bastion for radical art, radical thought--and radical nuns. Iowa-born and Los Angeles-raised, Corita wore loud Marimekko dresses and used popular culture and song lyrics in her anti-Vietnam, social-activist art, drawing heavy criticism from church conservatives.
In the past five years, tastemakers, art collectors and museums have renewed interest in Corita's artwork. Yet reasonably priced Corita originals are still available at the Corita Art Center; prices start as low as $200, with most falling between $800 and $3,000, depending on size, rarity and condition. At the Center, staff show available work by appointment and happily remind you that all profits go to charity.
Perfect for the holidays, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has recently issued coffee mugs ($12) and a tea towel ($40) based on Corita's serigraphs. Want to know more about this high-flying nun? Check out Julie Ault's authoritative book Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita for a history of one of L.A.'s brightest stars you won't find on Hollywood Boulevard.
Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart High School, 5515 Franklin Ave.; 323-450-4650 or corita.org