The history of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts is largely the story of Happy Valley. When Annie Besant, a supporter of progressive movements, from female suffrage to Indian independence, first saw the land which is now called Happy Valley, she envisioned that it would be a center for people who would usher in a new world. Besant’s vision contributed to Ojai’s development during the 20th century as a spiritual center and art community, and Beatrice Wood moving to Ojai in 1947 was central to this growth. Her history as part of the NY DADA movement, alongside Marcel Duchamp, and her later involvement in ceramics, led to her being an important figure in art history.
In 1926, Dr. Besant wrote that future plans included an art center and a school. The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts exists as part of this original vision - a place where arts and education are paramount. It is closely affiliated to the Besant Hill School (formerly the Happy Valley School) and students often exhibit at the Center or participate in workshops.
Aside from the permanent collection and a regular exhibition schedule, there are art workshops and performances. The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts presents a continuum joining the artists, writers and others who shaped Happy Valley and those who are working today, as well as a bridge between the International art world and the local community.
The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts celebrates the arts and promotes wide-ranging approaches to self-expression including painting, ceramics, film, music, woodworking and photography with exhibitions, performances and workshops. The permanent collection preserves the legacy of Beatrice Wood through the artist’s work, her collection of folk art from around the world, an extensive library and archives of historical material. The Center celebrates her spirit of experimentation and originality. Exhibitions featuring both acclaimed and emerging artists are documented and shared through film and new media. Operating as part of the Happy Valley Cultural Center, the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts is committed to serving both the local and international art community.