Los Angeles has become established as a major market for fine art. As such the city is home to a whole plethora of art galleries. The most efficient way to see this art market first hand is to visit a cluster of galleries; this way you can maximize your gallery time and minimize your travel time. Even better is to plan your sojourn during an art walk or an opening night. . . . nothing like free cheap wine and Tecate to make the art go down easier. The list below outlines some places in Los Angeles where you can find a bunch of art galleries within walking distance of each other.
Chinatown has recently had a moment as a hip place for galleries featuring fresh young talent. The place that started the art craze on ornate and pedestrian-only Chung King Road, China Art Objects, is just now moving to the Culver City area. Other fixtures in the area (like the Black Dragon Society) have closed. However places like Solway Jones Gallery, L2Kontemporary, Redling Fine Art, Bamboo Lane Gallery, The Happy Lion, and Cottage Home are keeping on keeping on. This area also features artsy stores like Ooga Booga and Fifth Floor Gallery. If you are thirsty the Mountain Bar and Hop Louie are great places to hang out and have a beer. The whole experience is most vivid on a Saturday night when a bunch of galleries coordinate openings and young artists fill the streets; check www.chinatownla.com for event info.
Culver City Art District
Culver City is hot hot hot. The seminal gallery here is Blum and Poe; this gallery moved to La Ceinaga Boulevard from Santa Monica in 2003 (and expanded to a 27,000 square foot space in 2008). Things really got moving in an art gallery direction in this area. . . other galleries now located nearby include Honor Fraser, Taylor de Cordoba, Cherry & Martin, David Kordansky Gallery, Susanne Veilmetter, Peres Projects, Norma Desmond Productions, and LAXART. The place here to sit down and get drink between gallery forays is Mandrake Bar. Other useful links include this little map showing you where things are at: www.ccgalleryguide.com and this www.culvercity.org page with links for even more galleries. Culver City has also recently become a foodie destination, but that is a whole different story.
Miracle Mile/6150 Building
Located near the LACMA complex and La Brea Tar Pits is another cluster of galleries. The 6150 Wilshire building features solid places like ACME, Mark Foxx, 1301PE. Looking at a slightly larger area, the folks who organize the Miracle Mile Art Walk (which occurs in January, April, July, and October) have put together this gallery list to help you get orientated to the art galleries here (click on the map button on the page to see where everything is at).
Santa Monica has provided an easy way to access a bunch of different art spaces at Bergamot Station. This place was once a stop on the Red Line trolley and still retains a funky industrial charm. Nowadays the offerings here include the Santa Monica Museum of Art, a wide variety of galleries, neat shops (Hiromi Paper is a favorite), and restaurants and cafes. Some of the notable galleries include Greenfield Sacks, Patrick Painter, Rosamund Felsen, and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, and (somewhere between a shop and a gallery) the Gallery of Functional Art. There is free parking at Bergamot Station and no admission for the galleries so it is hard to go wrong with a visit.
Downtown Gallery Row
Although the work at many of these place may not get featured in Art Forum, there is definitely a thriving gallery scene downtown near Main Street and Spring Street. The central event here is the Downtown Art Walk, which occurs the second Thursday of every month and draws large crowds. This www.galleryrow.org site gives an overview of establishments in this part of downtown, an area which has seen so much change in recent years and where skid row and loft housing exist right alongside the trendy galleries. If you are hungry, the Nickel Diner is a newish eating spot right here that has been drawing really good reviews. For nearby nightlife, places like Cole’s, The Association, and Golden Gopher seem to be attracting more and more people these days.
The major, well-established galleries in Los Angeles do not need a a bunch of arty neighbors and accordingly a lot of them have more distinct locations. Examples of this lower art gallery density situation include Gagosian Gallery and Sundaram Tagore in Beverly Hills, Regen Projects, Margo Leavin, Earl McGrath, and M + B in West Hollywood, Richard Telles and Michael Kohn in Fairfax District, West of Rome in Eagle Rock, and LA Louver in Venice.
Putting this essay together I noticed these links which list a number of LA galleries: www.laartopenings.com and www.art-collecting.com. Also, the blog www.the-flog.com is a good resource to learn about what is going on in Los Angeles. There is a thriving art world in Los Angeles and I hope this all gets you started in finding your way around.
(If you are a gallery owner and I have neglected to mention your space, I urge you to mention your gallery in the comment section below.)
[Photo courtesy of Incase]