Excursion in the Arts District


It’s 2018, and time to explore new corners of the city –  our first stop for adventure this past weekend was LA’s vibrant Arts District. Here are the highlights, and our advice.

Photo: Joshua Targownik / targophoto.com

Hauser & Wirth LA – A good way to start exploring this fast-changing neighborhood is to duck into the international gallery which effectively anchors the area. Hauser & Wirth began in Zurich, grew to outposts in London, New York, Somerset and Gstaad, and set down in Los Angeles in 2016 in a block-sized building on 3rd Street.

The stunning outpost contains the galleries themselves, an art book shop, a small boutique, and a delicious restaurant, Manuela’s, where we saw LA artist Mark Bradford casually dining at the bar! The courtyard also houses an urban garden – complete with chickens – that produces for the restaurant. Don’t miss the gift shop for a nicely curated selection of items for the home.

For Kids: A local nonprofit, the Garden School Foundation, runs a regular Family Garden Workshop one Sunday a month; sign up for the gallery’s newsletter so you can register for a class. Thefirst one takes place Sunday, January 21 from noon to 3 pm.

Photo: Noé Montes

Hauser & Wirth LA / 901 E. 3rd St/ Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 6 pm (free)

Upcoming show: Mark Bradford “You Remind me of Yourself” opens on February 17 and runs only until April 1

Mike Kelly’s Kandors: We had the good fortune to catch one of the last weekends of a show by the late LA-based artist Mike Kelly of glass-based sculptures called Kandors which were created between 1999 and 2011.  This beautiful installation that is only on view until January 21, 2018 and the show is definitely worth a last-minute excursion.

It is apparently rare to see these gorgeous glass bell jars exhibited together and the sight is memorable. The room is half-lit, and the cloches are lit from the bottom with rings of different colors; they only echo with similarity. Kandor is the mythical city where Superman came from, and Kelly was struck by the fact that the city itself is depicted differently from comic book to comic book. This bothered the artist, who set out to create miniature replicas of the various incarnations of the city scape that various comic book illustrators offered.

Each bell jar has a corresponding, illuminated city, which is situated close by, and lit with vibrant colors that suggest a thriving habitat. If you’re visiting this show with kids, it’s easiest to focus on the middle room of the show (with the bell jars), because even if they aren’t comic book followers (not many kids are these days), they can put themselves in the mind of a young Mike Kelly being curious about Superman’s home and relate to why he might have wanted to illustrate the inconsistencies in a mythology which meant a lot to him. If you have a moment, look at the beautiful drawings of the cloches in the first room (to the left) as you enter the show.

The Kandors provide beautiful visuals, but ultimately we found them unnerving.  After a few moments, we realized that the illuminated cities had a proper place under corresponding bell jars -they seem to relate to each other in a way that suggests a yearning to be reunited. One can only imagine the isolation of whole cities in bell jars, and the complications of environmental issues are hard to ignore. In fact, in the third main room of the show, the cities are inserted into the bell jars, with huge pipes providing air, and the futuristic cast of this idea felt quite depressing.

This review from the Los Angeles Times’ art critic helps to understand the context of this work and offers a bit of insight into the history of this important LA artist. 

Mixographia: Next we drove a few miles to a small gallery that creates unique prints for famous artists. We did a story about them here, and make a point of visiting this special place on a regular basis. The show on view now includes amazing Louise Bourgeois string prints (below, all from paper), luminous Helen Frankenthaller prints, and a series of recent prints from Alex Israel (above).

Our post tells about the process these printmakers have perfected, and patented – they work with all the top artists in the world, and many other prints are on display. They’ll also be at Art Los Angeles Contemporary next weekend.

Mixographia// 1419 East Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90011// Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 11am-6pm T: 323.232.1158

Time to Eat: We had ambitions to catch more galleries, but wound up driving around the local streets to admire the copious graffiti and looked longingly at many new restaurants and craft shops that have cropped up for the new residents of this burgeoning district.  We could spend every weekend exploring and just scratch the surface. There are pre-schools and parks, too, signaling that the community is replanting itself with a new generation.

Zinc Cafe and Bar Mateo: The Zinc Cafe combines healthy organic food with a wonderful kitchenware shop. During the week, prepared food is available for take-out, and guests can always spend time in this relaxing courtyard. Bar Mateo is in the back.  Zinc began in Laguna Beach, has an outpost in Corona del Mar, and is worth stopping by.

Shopping: We did not have time to shop, but these are notable stops: Apolis (a national brand) and Poketo  (which has two other locations in LA).  Shinola now has an outpost, as does Malin + Goetz – so, national and international brands are setting down roots. We looked in at the Sci-Arc store (the new campus sits next to Hauser & Wirth) but prices were pretty high.  Artist and Craftsman (1917-1921 E. 7th St.) will suffice if you are inspired to create.