Sam Francis: Three Short Films

Painter Sam Francis kept several studios and homes on the West Side of LA over the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which was an exciting era of artistic exploration and production in Santa Monica. By delving into extensive archives and conducting rare interviews with Francis’s sons and extended network, filmmaker and 18th Street Media Fellow Tiana Alexandria Williams created this three-episode documentary series, focusing on Francis’s family home (Canyon Roots), his influence on emerging artists and curators (Fostering the Arts), and his interest in C.G. Jung and dreams (Dreams).

This documentary series is a collaboration between 18th Street Arts Center and the Sam Francis Foundation.

The episodes below will go live on February 25, 2022 at 12pm PST, accompanied by a Facebook livestream. Please visit on or after that date to view the docuseries.

Sam Francis grew up in San Mateo, near San Francisco, but spent his childhood summers in Santa Monica. Though he went on to live in several other countries, including France and Japan, this episode explores Francis’s deep connection to Santa Monica, and his eventual return there. Osamu Francis, the first son of Sam Francis and his third wife, Mako Idemistu, describes the iconic home on West Channel road as complementing his father’s artwork, with its lighting, openness, and use of color. The natural beauty of Santa Monica, including the ocean, the sun, and the environment in which he lived, all had a significant impact on his work.

[Runtime: 9:07 Minutes]


Watch the episode.

Sam Francis was at the center of a web of relationships, connections, and initiatives that were an influential part of fostering the unique and important arts scene in the Los Angeles region. To this end, he opened the Litho Shop in Santa Monica in 1970, which became an important part of his life, not only because of the work he had produced there, but also because of the connections and relationships he had formed with the people who worked there. Prints expanded his artistic process and the way he approached his work, and the studio became an important home for emerging artists and master printers in the city. Francis also leveraged his work and his reputation to help establish art institutions throughout the region, laying the foundation for the international arts capital Los Angeles would become.

[Runtime: 14:54 Minutes]

Watch the episode.

Sam Francis believed that in order to be healthy, well, or his truest self, he needed to integrate the light and dark aspects of his personality. This episode explores the importance of dreams in Francis’s cosmology, worldview, and ultimately, in his artwork. Francis used to make his children write down and draw their dreams in a journal as they were growing up, and friends recalled regular discussions about dreams and their interpretation. This interest grew from a devotion to Jungian psychology (also called “analytical psychology” by its progenitor, Carl Jung), which sought to bring the unconscious into the present through a narrative exploration of dreams, fantasy, and meditation.

[Runtime: 14:52 Minutes]


Watch the episode.


Tiana Alexandria Williams is a filmmaker, researcher and activist archivist. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Digital Media and African American Studies from UC Davis and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. As a McNair Scholar, she conducted an original oral history-based research project that investigated the prisoners’ rights movement of the 1970s by reviving and analyzing archival materials. This experience inspired her to become more engaged with activist praxis as she produced social justice centered documentaries, helped build a radio program that dealt with confronting America’s mass incarceration crisis, and worked with KALW Productions in teaching journalism and radio production to incarcerated men inside Solano State Prison. Her work overall leverages oral history methodologies, critical race theory and abolitionist praxes to combat the suppression of liberatory narratives within the archive.


Building on Sam Francis’s creative legacy, the Sam Francis Foundation is dedicated to the transformative power of art as a force for change. Our stated mission is to further a greater understanding of Sam Francis’s art and ideas through a broad array of programs and activities designed to educate, inform, and catalyze new thinking about the importance of creativity in society.


This film was made possible by support from the Sam Francis Foundation, and the tireless work of Debra Burchett-Lere and Beth Ann Whittaker. Many thanks to those who were interviewed, including Osamu Francis, Shingo Francis, Jeff Perkins, Nancy Mozur, Debra Burchett-Lere, Leslie Jones, Jacob Samuel, Paul Cummins, Jaime Robles, Robert Shapazian, Dan Cytron, and Gabrielle Selz.