Hollywood Became L.A's Hottest Art District Overnight — Saturday Night, in Fact

Marcel Alcala's Performing_NON_Conformity performers outside of Donut Time during the Hollywood Walk of Art on SaturdayEXPAND
Marcel Alcala's Performing_NON_Conformity performers outside of Donut Time during the Hollywood Walk of Art on Saturday
Photo by Catherine Wagley

If you tried to hit each of the 15 main stops on the Hollywood Walk of Art that art org ForYourArt organized this past Saturday, it could have easily taken about two hours. That’s if you barely lingered and walked briskly.

This is noteworthy, given that only two and a half years ago there really would have been just three bona-fide art world stops to hit up and around that Highland and Santa Monica intersection. Regen Projects, still the blue-chip queen on the block, had just moved in, the smaller Redling Fine Art had its space in the strip mall across the way, and Perry Rubenstein had moved in a block away. Rubenstein has since buckled but many more galleries have arrived, and the area has become a walkable line of reputable spaces. That seemed to be the main point of Saturday’s event: to show how much is here all of a sudden.

The event began at what’s actually the oldest cultural institution on the strip, Donut Time, aka the “tranny donut shop.” It’s been there for years, and, late at night or early in the morning, there’s always drama happening there, a pick-up, break-up or impromptu dance routine. Anyone who showed up during the first hour of the Art Walk received free donuts. Later in the day, the group “US,” brought together by artist Marcel Alcala, could be seen outside Donut Time in neutral-colored dance uniforms. One performer, surrounded by a film crew and wearing contacts that made her eyes look red and vampire-ish, delivered a monologue in which she referred to the donut shop as “this gallery of sweets.”

But Alcala’s group was probably the rawest thing about the art on view Saturday. None of the new Hollywood spaces is really that young or emerging. Perhaps because the 25-year-old Regen Projects started the trend, and perhaps because real estate is available in the neighborhood but not exactly cheap, the Hollywood arts district has become a place for people who already have some traction and a veneer of professionalism.

Hannah Hoffman's show "Image Search" was on view during the Hollywood Walk of Art
Hannah Hoffman's show "Image Search" was on view during the Hollywood Walk of Art
Courtesy ForYourArt

Most, including Steve Turner, Michael Kohn and Various Small Fires, moved to Hollywood from elsewhere in the city, renovating relatively large spaces. Gavlak Gallery opened an L.A. space in addition to its Palm Beach, Florida, space. Hannah Hoffman opened fresh in 2013 but has paintings by 20th-century masters Francis Picabia and Jorg Immendorff on her walls. Diane Rosenstein, who opened her first gallery long after Regen and shows established artists as well as emerging ones, had a show by sculptor David Schafer that emanated scholarly confidence and material confidence up on Saturday.

Even LAM Gallery, a new venture on Highland and Willoughby, shows mostly midcareer artists who have exhibited often before but don’t have gallery representation. Dani Tull’s installation there, of sunset-colored paintings, seductive wax cobwebs on pedestals and crystal-clear oil dripping down from fishing wire that extends from the ceiling, is the work of someone who has exhibited since the 1990s and knows how to put a show together.

Performing_NON_Conformity performers behind JF ChenEXPAND
Performing_NON_Conformity performers behind JF Chen
Courtesy ForYourArt

At LAXART, which just relocated from its longtime Culver City digs to the refurbished recording studio on Orange and Santa Monica where Elvis used to hold sessions, hosted a talk by T. Kelly Mason, appropriately about sound and how it plays into the work he’s been doing for the past two decades. Pink dice Mason had installed were ticking like a clock on a pedestal in the main gallery as he spoke.

Blackman Cruz and JF Chen, the high-end furniture and design dealers that own real estate in and among the galleries, were open for the art walk, too. Near the end of the afternoon, Alcala’s performance troupe made its way to the parking lot behind JF Chen’s 1000 N. Highland Ave. showroom.

They danced and lectured on a hot pink and green stage while music played from an orange Prius. The average age of the people who wandered by might have been somewhere between 35 and 40. It was a youthful performance happening in a relatively new art neighborhood, but not happening in a youthful setting or in front of a youthful crowd.


Catherine Wagley on Twitter

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