Item of the Week: Copernicus & the Echo Park Artists

Published: August 3, 2010

Tucked away on the south side of the Clark Library is the outdoor reading room, a little-used space of late that contains some wonderful sculpture.  One of these sculptures is a casting of the face of Copernicus, made from a full-length statue of the astronomer by Archibald Garner.  This full-length statue is a part of the Astronomers’ Monument at the Griffith Observatory in Hollywood, a work commissioned by Garner and several other artists by the Public Works of Art Project in 1934.

Gordon Newell is one of the other sculptors whose work appears on the Astronomers’ Monument, and during the completion of that project, he and Garner became close friends.  Newell, in turn, was good friends with former Occidental College classmate Ward Ritchie, the Los Angeles printer whose shop on Griffith Park Avenue was a nerve center for many area intellectuals and artists, including UCLA librarian Lawrence Clark Powell and Clark Library favorite Paul Landacre.  The choice to donate and place a casting of Garner’s Copernicus here at the Clark Library was an easy one, especially since a casting of a work by Gordon Newell is mounted nearby.

For a better version of this story, please read Archibald Garner’s son Jeff’s account!

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