Los Angeles is emerging as an art capital on par with New York or Paris, perhaps with more of a pop-culture tinge.
This is, after all, the home of such extroverted painters as David Hockney, with his bright pastel swimming pools and forest scenes, and conceptual artists such as Ed Ruscha, with his large, text-based works. Along with media-savvy guerrilla artists such as Shepard Fairey, Los Angeles artists are covering more space in galleries around the world, spreading the word about the city’s unique aesthetic.
Now, L.A. is developing the neighborhoods and cultural institutions to match its art world cachet, which means there’s a lot to fill a weekend visit in terms of checking out all the new galleries, studios and cafes catering to the art-curious. In particular, the city’s formerly industrial Arts District just east of downtown is a vibrant place to see the scene in action.
Blink twice while standing along East Third Street, and you might think you’re in the former shipyards of Venice’s Arsenale, the home of its annual Biennale art showcase, or in the gallery-filled blocks of Brooklyn.
Just a decade or two ago, the Arts District was a largely unnoticed neighborhood of warehouses and light industrial buildings adjacent to Little Tokyo. Today, it’s in full gentrification mode, as hip restaurants, bars and a dozen galleries buzz with an international-flavored menagerie of beautiful people.
A new centerpiece of the district is the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel galleries complex (901 E. Third St., Los Angeles, 213-943-1620) built in a defunct flour mill. This sprawling space can feel like its own village with its restaurant Manuela, a bookstore, several exhibition spaces and a large courtyard set off, at least in March, by a 30-foot-tall steel rose created by sculptor Isa Genzken. On a recent Sunday afternoon, about a dozen white-clad dancers braved the beating sun to perform the modern routines of choreographer Trisha Brown in the courtyard.
After you get your fill of culture, stroll down East Third Street past the clothing boutiques and eateries to Angel City Brewery (216 Alameda St., 213-622-1261) for its generous selection of craft beers and people-watching. You’ll pass by another Arts District institution, the German brewery/eatery Wurstküche, (800 E. Third St., 213.687.4444 ext. 1) with its sausages, fries and Chimays, all in a sleek restaurant space.
The neighborhood sits next to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA building, a longtime satellite to the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Also, you can head about a mile west to the brand new museum The Broad, a natural light-filled box curated with works by Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists. At the start of every month, people can make a free, online reservation to enter the museum for the rest of the month, although those spots full up quickly. Visitors without a reservation can also wait in a standby line. Special exhibits may require a paid ticket.
Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect that reservations to enter The Broad are free while special exhibits may require a paid ticket.
What: The San Francisco Ballet presents Swan Lake, the classic performance that premiered on stages in 1877.
When: Various showtimes Friday, March 31, through Wednesday, April 12
Where: Veteran’s War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
Cost: $93 to $609
What: Old Town Clovis will be filled with carnival rides and crafts during its annual Big Hat Days.
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 1; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 2
Where: Near the intersection of Clovis Ave. and Fifth Street, Clovis
Redwood coast festival
What: More than two dozen bands will fill six venues during the Redwood Coast Musical Festival, performing jazz, swing, blues and other genres.
When: Hours vary between 1:30 p.m. and midnight Thursday, March 30 through Sunday, April 2
Where: Venues throughout Eureka, including the Adorni Center (1011 Waterfront Drive) and the Morris Graves Museum (636 F St.).
Cost: $10 to $90