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Sam Francis: Santa Monica and a Legacy of Supporting Artists

February 25, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Sam Francis in his Broadway studio, Santa Monica. Photo by Jerry Sohn. Courtesy of the Sam Francis Foundation.

Sam Francis: Santa Monica and a Legacy of Supporting Artists
A Documentary Series from filmmaker Tiana Alexandria Williams
Online Premiere: Friday, February 25 | 12 PM

Watch here:

Tune into a three episode documentary series about Sam Francis and his connection to Santa Monica. This series, presented by 18th Street Arts Center in collaboration with the Sam Francis Foundation,  will launch on February 25, 2022 at noon as a livestream and on-demand video launch. 

Artist Sam Francis kept several studios and homes on the West Side of LA over the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which was an exciting era of artistic exploration and production in Santa Monica. By delving into extensive archives and conducting rare interviews with two of Francis’s sons and extended network, filmmaker Tiana Alexandria Williams created a three-episode documentary series, focusing on Francis’s family home (Canyon Roots), his influence on emerging artists, printmakers, and curators (Fostering the Arts), and his interest in C.G. Jung and dreams (Dreams). 

The films will be broadcast on 18th Street’s Facebook page and on our website on Friday, February 25 at noon and will be available as on-demand videos. Register above to get a reminder!

The documentary series includes the following episodes:


Sam Francis grew up in San Mateo, near San Francisco, but spent his childhood summers in Santa Monica. Though he went on to live in several other countries, including France and Japan, this episode explores Francis’s deep connection to Santa Monica, and his eventual return there. Osamu Francis, the first son of Sam Francis and his third wife, Mako Idemistu, describes the iconic home on West Channel road as complementing his father’s artwork, with its lighting, openness, and use of color. The natural beauty of Santa Monica, including the ocean, the sun, and the environment in which he lived, all had a significant impact on his work. [Runtime: 9:07 Minutes]


Sam Francis was at the center of a web of relationships, connections, and initiatives that were an influential part of fostering the unique and important arts scene in the Los Angeles region. To this end, he opened the Litho Shop in Santa Monica in 1970, which became an important part of his life, not only because of the work he had produced there, but also because of the connections and relationships he had formed with the people who worked there. Prints expanded his artistic process and the way he approached his work, and the studio became an important home for emerging artists and master printers in the city. Francis also leveraged his work and his reputation to help establish art institutions throughout the region, laying the foundation for the international arts capital Los Angeles would become. [Runtime: 14:54 Minutes]


Sam Francis believed that in order to be healthy, well, or his truest self, he needed to integrate the light and dark aspects of his personality. This episode explores the importance of dreams in Francis’s cosmology, worldview, and ultimately, in his artwork. Francis used to make his children write down and draw their dreams in a journal as they were growing up, and friends recalled regular discussions about dreams and their interpretation. This interest grew from a devotion to Jungian psychology (also called “analytical psychology” by its progenitor, Carl Jung), which sought to bring the unconscious into the present through a narrative exploration of dreams, fantasy, and meditation. [Runtime: 14:52 Minutes]


In the research process of creating the three films about Sam Francis, filmmaker Tiana Alexandria Williams conducted extensive interviews with Francis’s family, curators, mentees, employees, and collaborators. Williams also collected detailed information and archival images of sites important to Sam Francis and his influence in Santa Monica, including his West Channel home, Broadway studio, and Litho shop. Collected on the site are clips of these sites, and those who knew and worked with Francis most closely during his lifetime, which have all been added to the Culture Mapping 90404 map. Explore the stories here.

Tiana Alexandria Williams is a filmmaker, researcher and activist archivist. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Digital Media and African American Studies from UC Davis and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. As a McNair Scholar, she conducted an original oral history-based research project that investigated the prisoners’ rights movement of the 1970s by reviving and analyzing archival materials. This experience inspired her to become more engaged with activist praxis as she produced social justice centered documentaries, helped build a radio program that dealt with confronting America’s mass incarceration crisis, and worked with KALW Productions in teaching journalism and radio production to incarcerated men inside Solano State Prison. Her work overall leverages oral history methodologies, critical race theory and abolitionist praxes to combat the suppression of liberatory narratives within the archive.

Building on Sam Francis’s creative legacy, the Sam Francis Foundation is dedicated to the transformative power of art as a force for change. Our stated mission is to further a greater understanding of Sam Francis’s art and ideas through a broad array of programs and activities designed to educate, inform, and catalyze new thinking about the importance of creativity in society.



February 25, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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