Jul 292011

In the 1920s, Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, and a number of their friends created the Algonquin Round Table. It was a group of artists and writers who came together every day for lunch and conversation. It’s been criticized by many, but the experience was so profoundly powerful that it at least in part inspired Harold Ross and Jane Grant to start The New Yorker, which sought to capture the intellectual experience of the group.

A similar sort of inspiration was created by Andy Warhol’s Factory, where writers, musicians, and artists gathered to work with and be inspired by each other. Think Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Truman Capote. And think about the Bauhaus, that wonderful place in Germany that was destroyed by Hitler and brought together Kandinsky, Klee, and others. Think about the Bloomsbury Group, the Pre-Raphaelites, and any number of artistic collaborations that have spawned great moments in time.

Think of any moment throughout history of inspiration and genius. The San Gabriel Valley right now has as much genius, inspiration, and goodness as any of those times and places. We have artists and thinkers. We have people of good will. The only thing we’re lacking is collaboration.

We deserve a place for our artists, writers, actors, and musicians, and there’s no reason that we can’t have exactly that.


Over the next few years, a group of us are going to create the San Gabriel Valley Arts Community, which we hope will be a center, an actual physical space, where we can all come to collaborate as people did at the Algonquin, in the Factory, and in the Bauhaus.

All of these places were wonderful as are so many others where people do art, but many of them suffered from the same problem: They were exclusive. Only the few and select were asked to enter. The rest of us heard stories and dreamed. The San Gabriel Valley Arts Community will not be exclusive. Anyone will be able to enter and take part in the community of artists.


We’re going to begin this project by developing the San Gabriel Valley International Literary Festival, which we hope to launch in January or February of 2013. Here, we’re going to bring writers from all over the world and writers from our area to collaborate over a week or so. You’ll meet poets from China and Australia, writers from Bulgaria and England, and publishers from all over.


We are going to create it, and you can participate in the festival, follow our blog, and join us in the creation of our community if you like. Each of us has our talents, and coming together, we can make something no one has accomplished yet – collaboration without exclusion, art without attitude. We need ideas, skills, work, a space, and money. We need people who have expertise, but we also need people who are just willing to do a little work.


It’s also perfectly fine with us if you don’t want to work. Feel free to follow our progress and join in on the conversation if you feel like it.

Please send us an email at sgvlitfestival@gmail.com. We have a facebook page and a twitter account too, and we’d love to have you join us there.

– John Brantingham

  7 Responses to “The San Gabriel Valley Literature Festival”

  1. Fantastic idea! I found the blog a bit difficult to red with the black background, but I was so interested, I plodded through it.

  2. John, this is a fabulous idea; I love the notion of non-exclusivity, and that artists of all types are encouraged to participate — and to lend a hand. It isn’t enough to buy the work of our artist friends — we’ve got to pitch in and do the hard work of organizing, notifying, rallying, and urging others to contribute too.

    I’ll share this idea with my friends in Sacramento, see if we can get something similar going. Meanwhile, I’ll track the progress on your event, and help spread the word.

  3. John – I applaud! Best of luck to you in this project. Please keep us informed.

  4. John,

    This is so promising as well as exciting, you can count on me


    • John,

      There is a problem with this email at sgvlitfestival@gmail.com, within your article. I am able to access the article without the gmail info. You cannot respond without an error.

      Either way you can count on me for this event. Just keep me posted at aughicks@gmail.com.

      Thank you for all the work you, Ann and others are doing to keep us abreast of what’s going on. I know that Sunny is very thrilled that she met all of us.


  5. I may have said this before, but since I was a lonely bookworm of thirteen I’ve been looking for an Algonquin Roundtable! I used to hang out at the Algonquin Hotel in New York as a young, stuttering boy of 17 living in my brother’s window sill. This is very exciting stuff.

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