Chouinard Art Institute, 741 S. Grand View, Los Angeles, circa 1930 | Photos: 1929-30 and 1930-31 Catalogs
In 1921, artist and educator Nelbert Murphy Chouinard (1879-1969) founded a small professional art school in Downtown Los Angeles, the Chouinard Art Institute. Her goal was to establish an important art school on the West Coast and was convinced that "even though the talents and ambitions of individuals vary greatly, the same intellectual and spiritual development is necessary to the portrait painter and commercial illustrator alike."
The reputation of the institution grew through the 1930s and 1940s, with the state of California recognizing Chouinard as a nonprofit educational university in 1935. In 1955, Chouinard was accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and it granted its first Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Chouinard became known for its open environment and for progressive instructors such as Richards Ruben, Emerson Woelffer and Robert Irwin. Besides training aspiring animators, Chouinard attracted many talented artists as students and faculty. Enrollees included Joe Goode, Ed Ruscha and Judy Winans, who helped produce the design journal Orb (1959–60) while in school.
In 1961, Walt and Roy Disney guided the merger of the Chouinard Art Institute and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to establish the California Institute of the Arts with the assistance and counseling of Lulu May Von Hagen, then chairman of the Conservatory. A decade later, the school moved to its current campus in Valencia, California.
See a list of Chouinard Art Institute alumni .