Three Days of Art in LA

April 12th, 2005 · 2 Comments · Los Angeles

A friend of a friend emailed us the other day, saying she will be in LA for three days at the end of April and would like to have dinner with us. She wanted to know if we had any recommendations for things to do while she’s in town. She’s a painter, and it’s her first time here. Here’s my rundown. Feel free to add to it if you have any recommendations yourself.

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Current LA art must-sees:
Museums: THING at the Hammer (contemporary LA sculpture survey), The Getty (wonderful gardens, Jacques-Louis David, etc), LACMA (bag on King Tut all you want, they’ve got a great permanent collection, and an excellent architecture show [Renzo Piano] up right now). Finally, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is must-must-must see.

Ace Gallery has the first West Coast survey of Tara Donovan, which is AMAZING. Besides, Ace Gallery is a treat in itself — it’s worth the trip just to ride with the elevator man.

Everyone is raving about Oliver Arms’s first solo show at Western Project. We haven’t seen it yet, but it might be worth a peek. Yes, Chinatown and Downtown are hopping right now (rumor has it), but Culver City really has my vote for the newest of the new hip spots. There’s a lovely afternoon right there: Western Project, Blum and Poe, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Here’s what I’d skip if you’re short on time:
MOCA. Their permanent collection is great and is up right now (post-war paintings), but most of the museum is their Visual Music exhibition, which we enjoyed, but it’s not all that cool. You could check out the website and see if it’s worth your time.

Norton Simon. Yawn.

The Huntington. The gardens are great, but “Blue Boy“? Yawn.

Anything in OC. Not worth the trek unless you’ve got a bit more time.

Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Bergamot is really hit-or-miss. Mostly miss.

Chinatown and Downtown. Lots of decent galleries, but it’s hard to park and navigate without an educated guide.

My best advice:
Plan ahead. Figure out what you want to do and see ahead of time and Mapquest every destination (the hallmark of an Angeleno is thousands of loose, coffee-stained print-outs of Mapquest directions floating around in their backseat). Find out what the museum or gallery’s hours are and leave nothing to chance. Bring power bars and water everywhere with you.

Traffic cannot be underestimated, and there is not much more frustrating than sitting in a parking lot on the 405, dehydrated and starving, while you slowly realize that you’re not going to make it to your destination before it closes. If you send me your itinerary, I’d be happy to point you in traffic-friendly directions and tell you potential pit-falls.

A parable and a true story:
When we first visited LA about 5 years ago, we wanted to see the fabled art scene in all its splendor. We were with friends — two actual LA residents, neither into art, though. We got on the 101 north near downtown, because our friend thought she knew how to get to MOCA, and started looking for signs.

We actually saw a sign, but we were in the left lane and couldn’t get over in time. Then we couldn’t get over for the next exit, and the next. We got over and off at the next exit, which wasn’t an exit but was another freeway. We ended up on another freeway in our attempt to retrace our steps back to that long-lost sign for MOCA.

We ended up on the 10, headed for Santa Monica, too far from MOCA to go back. We were so dejected that when we saw a sign for the Museum of Tolerance, our non-art friends, who were earnestly trying to meet our need to go to a museum, suggested that we do that instead. The moral of the story is that Tolerance just doesn’t cut it. So Mapquest instead.

Category: Los Angeles

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Tomas

    ah, that’s a nice itinerary….I would add a few things for Culver City: fun art at Lab 101 and down the street some beautiful paintings by Carlos Estrada-Vega at d.e.n. Contemporary (both on Washington Blvd)…then down the street (going west) for the best French pastries at Le Dijonaisse, and while you’re over at Western Projects, stop in to the Grand Casino, a great old Argentinian cafe, with great empanadas, tortas, and facturas….chaep and cheerful….Have a great stay!

  • Meg

    Ooo.. Sounds fabulous, Tomas! I’ve been to Le Dijonaisse (I love a good French bakery), but not to the Grand Casino. Culver City is such a great area.
    We met our new friends in Little Persia, over by UCLA, on Monday night. They’d just gotten into town, but it sounded like they had a great plan for the short trip.
    Even though we’ve lived here for 4 years, I find LA hard to take advantage of properly without planning. It’s not like NYC, where you can wander around and end up somewhere cool. But it definitely is worth working to discover the wonderful offerings of LA.

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