Between this weekend and next, there are so many receptions, opening night parties, art fairs, panels and tours that only someone with a clone or a teleporter could possibly hope to make them all.
If you are lacking in such futuristic technology, we’ve assembled a short guide to the events promising the very best people-watching, civilized wine-sipping, sponsored bars and bustling sidewalk scenes L.A. has to offer.
Saturday, Jan. 10: During the first real Saturday night in 2015 (a few outliers tried Jan. 3 but no one was really back from vacation yet), two of the most buzzed-about gallery districts in L.A. will be overflowing with intrepid crowds. Both Chinatown and Culver City host too many exhibition openings to fully enumerate.
Our advice is basically just to go the neighborhoods, pick a place to start, dive into the circuit and do your best. Tip: Culver City is mostly a 6-8 p.m. or 6-9 p.m. kind of place, whereas Chinatown is more of a 7-10 p.m. situation, plus it has more dive bars, and its restaurants are open later.
Culver City must-sees include: Alma Allen at Blum & Poe, Michael Rey at Cherry & Martin, Zhao Zhao at Roberts & Tilton, Glenn Kaino at Honor Fraser, Blue McRight at Samuel Freeman, Simone Lueck and Rebecca Bird at Kopeikin, Chad Robertson at Western Project, Brendan Lott and Andy Kolar in the newly expanded Walter Maciel, the 10-year anniversary show at Thinkspace, Sadie Benning at Susanne Vielmetter, and Laura Hamje, Michelle Muldrow and Elizabeth Ockwell in the group show MILIEU at Koplin del Rio.
The epicenter is the intersection of La Cienega and Washington Boulevards, with galleries to the north, east, and west from there, on both sides of the streets.
Chinatown’s Chung King Road has half a dozen galleries and a few alternative event and culture venues, and that charming off-street promenade can become a bit of a block party on nights like these, with exhibitions at Coagula, Chung King Studio, Good Luck Gallery, Charlie James, and Red Pipe.
"The stars have really aligned for this weekend on the block," says artist and Chung King Studio owner Osceola Refetoff. "It's going to be pretty epic."
Neighbor gallerist Charlie James concurs, observing that "There are some 60 openings across L.A. tonight — but Chinatown is still the place to be."
For easiest geo-locating, set your GPS to College and N. Hill Streets.
Sunday, Jan. 11: We have a pair of hangover-friendly afternoon garden parties in the greater Pasadena area. New shows from Anita Bunn and Jessica Curtaz open at Offramp Gallery's historical Craftsman style house and garden (2-5 p.m.), and the group show Elemental at the Sturt Haaga Gallery inside Descanso Gardens (3-5 p.m.) explores the properties of light at this hidden gem of modern architecture and contemporary art inside the famous botanical garden grounds in La Canada.
Offramp Gallery: 1702 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena. Descanso Gardens: 1418 Descanso Dr., La Canada Flintridge.
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There's no need to wait for next weekend for more, as Wednesday, Jan. 14 is the famous L.A. Art Show opening night party at the L.A. Convention Center in the South Hall, coinciding with the L.A. Jewelry & Antiques Show on the same night, (8-11 p.m., $125). Thursday, Jan. 15 is the Photo L.A. opening night party at the L.A. Mart, also Downtown (7-10 p.m., $85). Both these fairs have hours and special events going on all weekend, including tours and related special exhibitions on site and in the nearby Arts District.
Saturday, Jan 17: If you aren’t planning on haunting the Convention Center or L.A. Mart halls for the whole weekend, or if you get your hands on a teleporter and some Red Bull, consider supporting two L.A. institutions this evening. Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts opens a group show exploring metaphysics in visual art — which is very zeitgeisty right now — plus their openings are great social destinations, laid back and smart and a bit immune from the West Side bustle. Armory Center for the Arts: 145 Raymond Ave., Pasadena. Reception hours: 6-8pm.
And if you prefer the bustle, several new shows open at Bergamot Station Art Center on the afternoon and evening of Saturday, Jan. 17 as well, and their parking lot is a party unto itself at times like these. Most notably, see the Santa Monica Museum of Art, though there are several of the other galleries with opening receptions, such as William Turner, dnj, Peter Fetterman, and Lora Schlesinger.
Tip: Since the Museum opens in the afternoon, take the opportunity to go early and see some already-open gallery shows before the others have their new evening receptions. Bergamot Station: 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Museum reception 4-6 p.m., gallery receptions 6-8 p.m.