With so many artists living in L.A. and the local art schools churning out hundreds of eager graduates every year, new alternative art venues are opening all the time. In the past year, for example, 356 S. Mission Road (a downtown exhibition hall, community space and indie bookstore opened by artist Laura Owens and Ooga Booga proprietor Wendy Yao) and Thank You for Coming (a restaurant in Atwater Village where the menus and events are driven by an artist residency program) have both debuted to popular acclaim, attracting healthy crowds and writeups in the media.
Two years ago, L.A. Weekly published "25 Alternative L.A. Art Spaces to Check Out Now" and its follow-up, "10 L.A. Art Spaces That Change Our Idea of What an Art Space Is." Most of the projects on those two lists are still going strong, with a few (Night Gallery, Tif Sigfrids, The Vanity, Various Small Fires) even expanding their enterprises.
Inevitably, a handful of projects have closed, either falling victim to landlord and lease issues (Beacon Arts Building's curatorial initiative, Concord, Control Room) or being shuttered by their founders, who have moved on to other projects (Chloë Flores, JB Jurve, Latned Atsär). [Editor's note: This paragraph was changed on March 10. See note at the bottom of this story.]
Here are our latest picks for exciting new places to see fresh art, all of which have opened in the last year or two. This list focuses strictly on noncommercial, artist-generated projects that L.A. Weekly heard about through word of mouth. They might take a bit of effort to hunt down, but will reward the determined adventurer with a unique, well-thought-out approach and an experience that can't be had anywhere else.
Artist David Prince has situated himself in a sweet little hillside house, with a concrete garage that opens onto the sidewalk. Wanting a sustainable and low-key way to show work by other artists, Prince has beautifully fixed up the retro garage, installing track lighting and tasteful wooden doors. Visiting this domesticated space is a cozy yet stimulating experience: A recent show by Maura Brewer included glow-in-the-dark drawings that came to life with the help of a timer that turned off the lights every few minutes. 5041 Coringa Drive, Highland Park. adjunctpositions.org.
There is a lot going on at Chin's Push, an interdisciplinary project run by Lydia Glenn-Murray. A renovated storefront serves as a clean white gallery facing the street, while a funky back house hosts events and more art installations. There's a backyard, for concerts, screenings and brunches, and a trailer, which eventually will become an Airbnb space and/or an artist's residency. Glenn-Murray loves this kind of flexibility and layering, the better to forge unique connections among diverse practices. The unusual name derives from the surname of the former tenants, still visible above the apartment-style doorbell bearing the word "push." 4917 York Blvd., Highland Park. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Named for its location at the intersection of Fourth and Wall streets on Skid Row, where you might have to step over some homeless people to get inside, Fourth Wall is the space between the adjoining studios of Carl Pomposelli and Noah Spindler. Every couple of months, each picks an artist to do a project in his studio, with the Fourth Wall acting as an exhibition space that reconciles the two bodies of work. Process is valued here; things might change or evolve in the course of a show, much like the way the addition of an extra wall opened up possibilities in the minds of the space's founders. 303 E. Fourth St., 5th floor, 2nd door, downtown. thefourthwall.org.
ILGWU is the well-known acronym for International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, but here it stands for Institute 4 Labor Generosity Workers & Uniforms, the headquarters and archive of East German textile worker and labor activist Frau Fiber, who is the alter ego of artist Carole Frances Lung-Bazile. A member of the Long Beach Art Exchange, ILGWU is a unique stop on art-walk nights, offering handmade goods for purchase as well as opportunities to engage in hands-on activities. For example, at one of her Tailor Made performances, you can have the Frau do a designer knockoff for you, learn about what textile workers in different countries typically earn and pay for work via a price determined by spinning the Wheel of Wages. 346 E. Third St., Long Beach. ilgwu.wordpress.com.
No, you're not being spammed by the ubiquitous cellphone company - metro pcs is the frustratingly unsearchable name of a new art space founded by Ian James and Matt Siegle. The two got a sweet deal on a row of three storefront spaces, with the stipulation that they must hold public events. Thus, an exhibition space was born in between the artists' studios. With a cheeky focus on more experimental works that might not fly elsewhere, such as a recent Nick Kramer installation that included a huge, Gumby-shaped foam sculpture, metro pcs is named not for what the space used to be (as is often the case in Chinatown) but for what it's likely to become in the future. 422 Ord St., 2nd floor, Suite D, Chinatown. metropcs.la.
What do you do when your dad runs an Internet service provider for Middle Eastern countries? If you're Natalie Labriola, you take over the company's surreal Westside office - reminiscent of a sci-fi film, with its huge banks of video monitors in a darkened atmosphere - and turn it into an art space during off hours. Projects in this highly theatrical setting have been heavy on video installations but also have included lectures and performances. Satellite Space, a hilarious video satire of office life that's a collaboration between Labriola and comedian Kate Berlant, was recently released on MOCAtv. 1625 17th St., Unit 3A, Santa Monica. satel-litespace.biz.
Contrary to a recurring art-world pronouncement, painting will never die; thus, one of the most charming new spaces in L.A. is strictly devoted to painting. Founded by Ross Caliendo and Andrew Cannon, Secret Recipe happens once a month in Caliendo's garage/studio and lasts for one night only. It's a surprisingly high-quality celebration of art's oldest and most revered medium. January's show, "Popular Panorama," showcased attention-grabbing work by 16 up-and-coming painters, including Jonathon Hornedo's self-portrait, which was also an ad for services, and Sara Clendening's limes, which lit up every few seconds. 1123 N. Benton Way, Silver Lake. secret-recipe.org.
South of Sunset
With a name inspired by the line from the movie Clueless in which Josh says to Cher, "You get upset if someone thinks you live below Sunset," South of Sunset was founded by Elizabeth DiGiovanni and Megan Dudley. The two former gallery workers have a multitude of creative interests, which are reflected in the scope of their programming. Their first show was a celebratory, one-night "balloon rise & drop & pop happening" engineered by Miggie Wong; that was followed by "The Exhibitionists," a group show in which participating artists used their fabrication skills to build walls and otherwise improve the space. 1218½ W. Temple St., Echo Park. southofsunset.la.
Traction Arts, a street-facing window in downtown's Arts District that showcases video art from dusk to midnight daily, is the simplest but also perhaps the most magical project on this list, capable of suddenly changing the perspectives of random passersby. Ken Marchionno operates the space out of his studio as a way "to expose the community... to new and interesting video." Recently on view was Frances Hoffman's MSP to RAP, a meditative loop that depicted a passenger's view from inside a plane as it takes off and lands, complete with soothing flight attendant voiceover. 821 Traction Ave., downtown. tractionarts.org.
See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
Editor's note: A previous version of this story wrongly implied that Beacon Arts Building has closed. While the curatorial initiative there that we highlighted in our May 2012 list has folded, the space is still open. We regret any suggestion to the contrary.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Carol Cheh on Twitter:
Public Spectacle, L.A. Weekly's arts & culture blog, on Facebook and Twitter: