LA Film Forum Logo

Interior Gardens: The Films of Sara Kathryn Arledge

Interior Gardens: The Films of Sara Kathryn Arledge

Sara Kathryn Arledge, c. 1931-1932. Photograph by Margrethe Mather.

Los Angeles Filmforum presents

Interior Gardens: The Films of Sara Kathryn Arledge

Sunday, March 24, 2019, 7:30 pm

At the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

In conjunction with the exhibition entitled Sara Kathryn Arledge: Serene for the Moment, at the Armory Center for the Arts.

Guests: Armory Center for the Arts Director of Exhibition Programs/Chief Curator Irene Tsatsos, curator of the exhibition Serene for the Moment; Terry Cannon, founder of Pasadena Filmforum

Sara Kathryn Arledge is one of the undeservedly neglected figures in the American experimental cinema. Although her two major works, INTROSPECTION and WHAT IS A MAN?, were completed in 1946 and 1958, respectively, neither was screened with any frequency until the late 1970s. Spending much of her life in Pasadena, Filmforum hosted her in 1980, and Filmforum founder Terry Cannon and his wife Mary are responsible for the survival of most of Arledge’s surviving artworks.  Now, in conjunction with an electrifying exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts, Filmforum is delighted to present all of Arledge’s films again.  We’re delighted that the exhibition curator Irene Tsatsos and Filmforum founder Terry Cannon will be introducing the show.

In his book The Exploding Eye, Wheeler Winston Dixon has written, "Along with Maya Deren and Marie Menken, Sara Kathryn Arledge is one of the foremothers of the American experimental cinema, who worked tirelessly to perfect her art during the span of several decades when she was one of the few practitioners of independent cinema."

            “INTROSPECTION was begun in 1941 and was the first abstract dance film made in the United States. Along with Maya Deren's A Study in Choreography for Camera, also made in the mid-'40s, Arledge's film pioneered the genre that came to be known as "cine-dance." WHAT IS A MAN?, her second film, is a series of vignettes which ponder the "alienation" of modern man and woman. Completed shortly after Arledge's release from Napa State Hospital, where she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had undergone numerous electroshock treatments, WHAT IS A MAN? offers a fascinating glimpse into the filmmaker's psyche.
            “A prolific painter, Arledge also pioneered the medium of hand painting on glass slide transparencies. These largely abstract works, begun in 1947, involved the making of "glass sandwiches," between which she squeezed colored gelatinous sheets which were heated in ovens. The melted gels were then drawn on with toothpicks, Q-tips, crumpled napkins and toilet paper, Sharpie pens and so on. Finding great satisfaction with this process, Arledge would eventually make a number of what she called "stable" films (see TENDER IMAGES and INTERIOR GARDEN), in which she transferred the glass transparencies to 16mm film.”  -- Video Art World, April 13, 2011

Bio: Sara Kathryn Arledge (1911-1998) was born in Mojave and lived most of her life in Pasadena, CA, from the 1930s to 1980s, with short intervals in Tucson, New York, Philadelphia, and the Bay Area. 

 Arledge is considered a pioneer of ciné-dance and was one of the first to film dance movement in order to “add time to painting.” Her psychedelic dance film Introspection (1941-1946) offers a surreal visual experience that abstracts dancers’ bodies and actions through decidedly low-tech yet ingenious use of costumes, masking, and movement, transforming the human figure into a series of isolated, fragmented limbs in motion. As a filmmaker she created new visual experiences, such as environmental light shows of abstract, hand-painted slide transparencies. Arledge was also a prolific painter, whose psychedelic abstractions feature vivid color and organic shapes, sometimes referencing human, fetal, or animal forms that emphasize the eerie in the mundane and the disorienting passing of time.

Arledge’s exhibition and screening history is erratic, with many years between various public presentations. Her two major film works, Introspection and What is a Man?, were completed in 1946 and 1958, respectively, yet neither was screened with any frequency until the late 1970s, and even then screenings were very occasional. Her films have been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1977); Pasadena Filmforum (1980); and the Independent Film Festival, Santa Cruz, CA (1982). Her paintings were exhibited decades ago in large, open-call group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum. She also had a retrospective exhibition at the Aarnun Gallery in Pasadena in 1978. Arledge studied painting at University of California, Los Angeles; Columbia University; and the Barnes Foundation.

Her works on paper, films, and ephemera are the subject of an exhibition entitled Sara Kathryn Arledge: Serene for the Moment, at the Armory Center for the Arts through May 12, 2019:

Reviews of Sara Kathryn Arledge: Serene for the Moment:

Tickets: $10 general; $6 for students/seniors; free for Filmforum members. Available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at  or at the door.

For more information: or 323-377-7238.

Terry Cannon has been involved in the artistic and cultural life of Southern California since the mid-1970s.  In 1975, he founded Pasadena Filmforum (now Los Angeles Filmforum), and served as its executive director for eight years.  He currently works for the Pasadena Public Library’s Allendale Branch, and is executive director of the Baseball Reliquary, a traveling museum of baseball curiosities.  He is also co-director of the Institute for Baseball Studies at Whittier College, the first humanities-based research center of its kind associated with a college or university in the United States.  While working with Pasadena Filmforum in the mid-1970s, Terry and his wife, Mary Cannon, became close friends with Sara Kathryn Arledge; following her death in 1998, the Cannons, along with Ed and Marcia Nunnery, established the Sara Kathryn Arledge Memorial Trust to preserve her artworks, including films, paintings, and glass slide transparencies.

Irene Tsatsos is an artist, writer, and Director of Exhibition Programs / Chief Curator at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA, where she recently presented Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in 1990s Mexico, part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative. Tsatsos was the executive director of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) from 1997 until 2005 and has held curatorial positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Arts Club of Chicago, and Chicago's alternative space N.A.M.E., where she served as executive director. Her essays have appeared in numerous titles of Armory Press, in California Video and Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art 1945-1980 (Getty), and others. Tsatsos has participated in exhibition and grant review panels nationally, including for Creative Capital and The National Endowment for the Arts, and was a curator of the inaugural Los Angeles public art biennial, CurrentLA:Water.  Tsatsos has taught writing at My Friend's Place, a drop-in center for at-risk youth, is a member of the Advisory Council of Project X Foundation for Art & Criticism, and is the chair of the board of Women's Center for Creative Work.