The project was created with funding and organizing help from the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA). "Mr. Hartsfield was among the earliest African-American firefighters in the Los Angeles Fire Department and a strong advocate for integrating the department in the 1950s," said Susan Gray, the CRA/LA director of cultural planning. "He's an important figure in this part of the city's history, and honoring him with a bust at the museum will ensure others in years to come know of his outstanding contributions.
This event coincides with his 93rd birthday, so there is much to celebrate!" The statue is the latest by sculptor Artis Lane. Lane has been commissioned to create sculptures of a number of prominent African-American historical figures, including Sojourner Truth in the United States Capitol Building and Rosa Parks in the Smithsonian Institute National Portrait Gallery.
CRA/LA worked with the California Artist Coalition of Los Angeles (CACLA) and the African American Firefighter Museum and contributed $25,000 to fund the work.
The Museum's Central Avenue façade will be further enhanced by a firefighter portrait entitled "Circa 1912" by Los Angeles artist Michael Massenburg. Additional funding for the exterior improvements was provided by the National Association of Minority Contractors.
"Redevelopment projects in our seven CRA/LA project areas must contribute at least 1 percent of development costs towards permanent public art or cultural facility construction. This policy serves our mission of revitalizing neighborhoods, provides quality art relevant to neighborhood needs, and assures that artists from diverse backgrounds are involved in the creation of art projects," a spokesperson for the agency said.
All development projects with development costs over $500,000 with CRA/LA financial assistance must set aside at least 1 percent of development cost to art, and adhere to CRA/LA's Art Policy. Affordable housing and the affordable housing components of mixed-income projects are exempted from the policy. A portion of CRA/LA private development art fees are invested in special Project Area trusts funds, in order to provide financing for art in affordable housing projects and community centers, and other locations where funding for such improvements is not readily available.