A city as art-filled as Los Angeles can be tricky to navigate–Downtown, Chinatown, and the Arts District all claim to be the pulse point for what’s new and exciting. Add to that the actual physical stresses of gallery hopping–heat, smog, dirt, and L.A.’s massive geography–and having a plan prepared before you go is essential.
Far from comprehensive, but certainly a sizable undertaking, here are four must-visit Downtown galleries.
Legacy blue-chip gallery Hauser & Wirth opened its doors in Los Angeles in 2016 (the gallery has outposts in Zurich, New York, London to name a few) in an old flour factory in L.A.’s Downtown core. Comprised of a gallery space, restaurant, and bookstore the 100,000 square-foot location is part of an interdisciplinary take on the white cube that only a renowned gallery like Hauser & Wirth could attempt. The entire plaza has been designed to re-imagine what a gallery space can be, and Hauser & Wirth represents many of the high-concept, pie-in-the-sky conceptions that gallerists have been murmuring about for years. Manuela restaurant, which offers Southern-themed fare, also has room for a chicken coop at its onsite urban garden, housing 11 rare breed chickens. Food, reading rooms, and performance space come together with a museum-like ambition to educate.
The gallery proper boasts a full roster of household names like Jenny Holzer, Louise Bourgeois, and Mark Bradford. And while L.A. may have a number of noteworthy blue-chip galleries (Blume & Poe, Kayne Griffin Corcoran) Hauser & Wirth is a one-stop-shop art destination.
Relatively nearby is Night Gallery. Practically a veteran of the Downtown art scene (it opened in its current location in 2013) the gallery presents some of the city’s most dynamic exhibitions. Founded by Canadian-born artist and curator Davida Nemeroff, Night Gallery became well-known at its first location in a strip mall in Lincoln Heights. Nemeroff, who holds an MFA from Columbia, became known for hosting shows that were punk, DIY, and socially-driven.
Today in the sleek warehouse space, those original ethos are still very much present. Outside there is a courtyard for mingling during openings, and inside, the roster of artists is made up of challenging artistic practices. Artists such as Mira Dancy, Cara Benedetto, Christine Wang are representative of the conceptual pedagogy promoted at Night Gallery.
Next door to Night Gallery, in the same complex, is Ghebaly Gallery, which also relocated to the space in 2013. With previous posts in Culver City and Chinatown, the gallery is one of the early galleries responsible for Downtown’s arts revitalization. Focusing on emerging and mid-career artists, Ghebaly displays works across all media and disciplines, often transforming the space. A recent show by Florian Meisenberg featured water pipes and fauna works along with the artist’s paintings and sculptures–creating barriers and new walkways throughout the space. Ghebaly also recently brought in Finnish photographer Iiu Susiraja to Los Angeles for the first time.
Wilding Cran Gallery, run by husband and wife duo Naomi deLuce Wilding and Anthony Cran, opened in the neighbourhood in 2014. Cran, whose father is Canadian artist Chris Cran, and Wilding have a particular interest in bringing Canadian artists more visibility within Los Angeles. The gallery’s represented artists include formative Canadian artists like Vikky Alexander and Martin Bennett, as well as inviting emerging artists like Vancouver/L.A.-based Andy Dixon to show.
In an epicenter like Los Angeles good art isn’t hard to find, just hard to choose.
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