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Ken Allan arrived in Seattle a year ago from L.A. He's assistant professor of art history at Seattle University, and he specializes in postwar L.A.—essentially, in the construction of Los Angeles as an art center.

I first came to know him through an essay he wrote looking back at the late Walter Hopps.

He's at work on a book about "artistic practice, spectatorship, and social space in 1960s Los Angeles," and he sat down at his office to talk about the birth of L.A., the way emerging scenes (like Seattle's) perform themselves, the role of a place in shaping art and vice versa, and why there's so much damn L.A. in Seattle lately.