Best Place to See and Make Art Where You Least Expect It - 2011
Beacon Arts Building
On the part of La Brea Avenue that stretches southward, down near where it crosses Centinela, a curious art experiment has been under way for about a year now in what is arguably one of the most underappreciated parts of L.A. — Inglewood. The goings-on at the Beacon Arts Building, along with its partners at the Inglewood Open Studio Tours, are generating interest in a neglected part of the city's long and rich artistic history. Of course, don't tell the scores of artists who've been living and working there in peace for decades that it's "neglected," that's how they like it — vibrant, historic, safely under the market-inflating radar. The renovated Bekin Storage building — one of those mutely stylish, vaguely timeless concrete citadels — now is the site of both a popular art gallery and comfy, well-appointed studio workspaces. The gallery launched last fall with a series of popular, high-profile exhibitions curated by some of the more adventurous local art critics (full disclosure: myself included), and now continues its independent programming with a late-fall homage to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Installations make full use not only of BAB's white-box ground-floor space, but also the literally thousands of square feet of classically industrial upper floors, the five-story external facade and the enormous private parking lot. And finally, for reasons you don't need to worry about, its closing receptions are always catered by IHOP. 808 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood. (310) 621-5416, beaconartsbuilding.com.
—Shana Nys Dambrot