Painting an Activist Future

January 26, 2015 proudly presents a reprise of an article from our first issue about a woman without whom West Hollywood would be quite a bit darker. Few women, lesbian or straight, can lay claim to having as large an impact on her society and community than can Ivy Bottini.

Ivy Bottini is an artist, actor, comedian, director, mother and political activist.

The painting activist in her studio. By Ryan Gierach.

She is a founder of the first chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and designed their national logo in 1969. Ms. Bottini founded the first AIDS organization in Los Angeles, AIDS Network. She founded the Los Angeles Lesbian/Gay Police Advisory Board. She spearheaded the defeat of the historic Briggs (No on 6), No on LaRouche and No On 64 Initiatives. In 1991 she received Drama Logues’ “Best Performance Award” for the highly acclaimed “Against the Rising Sea.” In 1998, the “Ivy Theatre” was established and named in Ms. Bottini’s honor.

The city of West Hollywood, recognizing her contribution to the Women’s Movement and to the Lesbian and Gay Movement, in 2001 planted a California Live Oak in her honor and erected a bronze monument at its foot in the Matthew Shepherd Memorial Triangle.

Ivy worked as a full time graphic artist for 25 years. She is currently preparing for another Art Show. Her activism continues on – she acts as co-chair of the city of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and headed the City’s Addiction and Recovery Task Force. Under her leadership, the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board spearheaded the exploration of partner abuse in the lesbian and gay community. Ms. Bottini is also a Board Member of the West Hollywood Orchestra, and member-emeritus of the Christopher Street West Board of Directors, the longest-running Gay Pride Parade/Festival in the world.

Ms. Bottini remains active in real estate as an agent for Prudential/John Aaroe Realtors, and as an Account Executive for Community Yellow Pages.

Following is a broad sampling of Ms. Bottini’s political activism history, one now spanning five decades:

Ms. Bottini had painted a long career in the graphic arts as well as in the women’s and gay rights movements. By Ryan Gierach.

1966 – Co-founder of first chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW) in New York City and acts as president of the chapter from 1968 to 1970. She designs National NOW logo while visiting California in 1969.

1974 – Tours the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii as first Lesbian/Feminist one woman show.

1977 – Creates and hosts first Lesbian/Gay radio show on mainstream network, KHJ, Los Angeles.

1981 – Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as Commissioner for “California Commission on Aging” – the first “out” lesbian or gay to be appointed to a state board or commission.


1983 – Founding member of the first community service organization to address the disease’s ravages.

1998 – The “Ivy Theatre Company” in Los Angeles is founded and named in her honor.

2000 – Appointed co-chair of Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board of the City of West Hollywood.

2001 – On the organizing committee of Alliance for Diverse Community Aging Services and served as founding board member of the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing Corporation, a non-profit that breaks ground on its new GLBT Elder Housing structure in Hollywood called “Encore Hall” in April, 2005. talked with Ms. Bottini in her West Hollywood condo on Kings Road.

Why did you move here to West Hollywood?

Hard at work, and no, it’s not someone’s makeup she’s doing. Ms. Bottini’s work will be available online soon. By Ryan Gierach.

“I found myself here all the time, especially around the time of cityhood and the Briggs Initiative fight…So I decided to go buy a condo one day and looked only here. West Hollywood personified our community’s struggle…there was so much going on here, I really wanted to live here.”

What’s changed and what’s stayed the same about the city in its 20-year history?

“It’s getting kind of crowded, but I’m sure the city will find ways to mitigate the traffic that…[all these] multiple-family dwellings going up all over and the city is feeling, like the [residents] that it might be too much too fast. I’m glad they are looking at mixed-use…everywhere I lived back East was mixed-use. I’m favorable to it because it humanizes a city, helps merchants and residents get to know each other. But the city retains its activist fervor, and I envision them even building a monorail over the city to solve some of the traffic problems…I don’t see the large Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) population getting anything but bigger as more of us move here to the safety of the city.”

What’s the nicest and most fun thing about living in West Hollywood?

“I feel like I have a large family in West Hollywood, that’s a very important feeling for us lesbian and gay people. We don’t always have families, and to feel that in the community is really nice. The most fun thing is the night life – I feel it in my body at night when the people come out and come here to enjoy the night life here. There is an energy and aliveness – that is really fun, being in the middle of that vitality.”

From an activist’s point of view, how is West Hollywood important?

“There’s a reason for West Hollywood – [gays and lesbians] weren’t being heard in the 1970s and we took hold of the city government to create a place for our voices to be heard [we made] a place at the table. Anyone visiting from around the world notices this place is a very special place…there are places where gays and lesbians are honored – that’s something you won’t find elsewhere. West Hollywood has become the center of the gay and lesbian community in the world. I honestly believe that.”

She advocates a “monthly Art Festival with artists painting and displaying on the newly-widened Santa Monica Boulevard between the trees.” By Ryan Gierach.

From an artists’ point of view, how is West Hollywood important?

“It could be better. The city supports large [corporate art] installations, but they don’t nurture the everyday working artist living in West Hollywood. The public art is great, but they don’t help working artist like they could – say for example a monthly Art Festival with artists painting and displaying on the newly-widened Santa Monica Boulevard between the trees. It would bring artists to the street, visitors from out of town and money to the merchants’ pockets.”

How are we doing with senior and low-income housing?

“The city is behind there, too, but catching up. They could move faster, but they make the city beautiful wherever possible… I co-founded the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing Corporation in 2001, a non-profit housing corporation that breaks ground on its new GLBT Elder Housing structure in Hollywood called ‘Encore Hall’ in April. It will have 3000 square feet devoted to community and cultural functions. Why not in West Hollywood? Why not artist’s lofts with public space and low-income set asides like are being built in Los Angeles? I believe that this is the Creative City and it can support art, seniors and low-income artists working alone and isolated by helping to build housing for us.

“…but from an artist’s perspective, this is one of the most restfully beautiful cities I know of to drive through – especially along Holloway coming downhill east (I could sit and look at that view forever). The city did a good job re-building [Santa Monica] Boulevard, and deserves congratulations.”