New LA galleries report Summer 2010

The year 2010 is proving to be one of tremendous transformation and growth in the LA artworld. In the past year a small number of highly dynamic spaces have moved in, offering more low-key but strong exhibitions in recent memory that were not solely driven by the market. Despite LA having lost a few dozen commercial spaces in the past two years, the rise of prominent artist run spaces such as Las Cienegas Projects (a 2,800 square foot space), WPA, Actual Size, The Company, Pauline (apartment gallery), and Phil; as well as the opening of a new space by LA collector Shirley Morales (Ltd. Los Angeles, on the Sunset Strip on a corridor with a small number of year and two old spaces such as Eighth Veil), have reinvigorated the LA scene in new and powerful ways.

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Las Cienegas Projects

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WPA gallery

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The Company

The decision of far more powerful and stories spaces such as LAXART and West of Rome (a regular player at Art Basel when it was a commercial gallery), along with the newly launched Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), to all turn to doing remarkable public art programs in Los Angeles, was done to give LA a strong public art presence in a way that it has never had in the past. This coincides with the growing strength of the University of Southern California’s public arts degree, which is already providing trained personnel for on the ground engagement with the new and unique realities being developed by the increasing interest in Los Angeles as a special place for making art.

The Chinatown gallery situation is also in flux. The Katheryn Brennan gallery, formerly Sister gallery, born from Acme gallery in Mid-Wilshire, is moving to the LES (Lower East Side) and becoming Brennan Griffin. She joins Rental gallery as the second LA space to move to the center of the market, where the possible billion dollars in cost Whitney Museum space will open in the Meatpacking District, and where the new DIA Chelsea will also to be built from the ground up to be an artist paradise exhibition space. What was once the high energy scene of LA has been shifted to the new spaces on Hollywood’s Sunset boulevard.

Actual Size gallery, Los Angeles (photo from Flash Art magazine)

Another Year in LA gallery, which has since inception hosted several important exhibitions, is moving, but has not made their plans public. They have operated out of the former Capital Records stamping plant. Cottage Home gallery, the 4,000 square foot shared gallery in Chinatown, is the most rewarding gallery going experience that remains in that part of LA’s ever-expanding artworld landscape.

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VOLUME, a bicoastal exhibition featuring artists of local, national, and international standing

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VOLUME opening

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More VOLUME at the gigantic 12,500 square foot AT1 space in Atwater Village, curated by a New Yorker, in Los Angeles (photos bytryharder blogspot)

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Mike Kelly Studio, a Voyage of Growth and Discovery

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(photos by Fredrick Nilsen)

Emi Fontana’s West of Rome, one of the LA spaces presenting major new public art, is showing Mike Kelly and Michael Smith’s project, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery. The project debuted in NYC and is exhibited in Los Angeles in the vast former Farley building storage space, which is also Mike Kelly’s studio. A show of this magnitude in New York would have multiple reviews. This is probably why it opened in New York in the first place, even though the project was born and formed in Los Angeles.

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The Faley building, Mike Kelly’s studio, where the project was conceived.


Phil gallery

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Phil gallery owner Tony Payne in Eastside of Los Angeles artist hood of Highland Park.

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Cheesy burger and fries at The York, a really fun real beer bar in LA.

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The York gastropub, which I prefer over the few other LA artist bars. The York avenue gallery scene also includes a few established spaces such as Kristie Engle gallery, whose space resides next to not one but two bars, one being The York gastropub, one of the most comfortable, accessible, relaxed yet fun and actually well designed bars in LA. The other is a biker bar.

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8th Veil gallery on Sunset boulevard (photo by tryharder)

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LA art collector Shirley Morales new space, Ltd.Los Angeles, on 7561 W. Sunset, in Hollywood.

She is interviewed about her space in the Flash Art issue 272, out now. Ltd. Los Angeles is a member of the NADA art fair. It should be noted that San Francisco has 9 NADA Fair members, while Los Angeles has 8.

Her upcoming program promises quite a bit of excitement. In July 2010, artist Erick Pereira will recreate the infamous nightclub which was in the space “Rodney’s English Disco” in the 1970s. Fall shows include a show by New York artworld sensation Kalup Linsay, followed by a group show curated by Matthew Higgins. This is one of the first project gallery spaces in LA to have visiting curators since LAXART came into Los Angeles in 2005.

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Led Zepplin band at the club in 1972

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The commercial gallery scene at the upper strata of the LA Artworld is seeing the New York art world move into town, to use LA as a platform for the sale of Contemporary, not Older, art. L&M Arts has already attracted the LA based sculptor Thomas Houseago, who left Kordansky gallery to join this global powerhouse secondary market gallery, now with a contemporary space opening in the fall of 2010 in Venice Beach. The début show will be the work of LA giant Paul McCarthy, which should be the not miss opening of the year. Another powerhouse from NYC, the Matthew Marks Los Angeles gallery opens in LA in the spring of 2011.

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In the fall of 2010, LACMA’s 45,000 square foot Resnick gallery opens.

It will hopefully begin to bring in some of the several exhibitions LA has been unable to bring to town for lack of exhibition space. The Getty Museum was supposed to do this work as of over 2 decades ago, but clearly went in a different direction. Perhaps now there will be a true sea change in terms of their being prominent exhibitions coming to LA. Up the road – just 2 years from now, the Broad Museum is to open, most likely across from LA MoCA on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. It is hoped that with the joint institutions the number of visitors to both venues as a single destination, will prove to be both worthy and admirable.

American Cold War Shelters (2009) by Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

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