Best Contemporary Art Mall - 2012
Pacific Design Center
A tragically underappreciated gem of the local art landscape, the second floor of the Blue Building at the Pacific Design Center is one of the city's most populated "gallery districts," and certainly its most densely packed. About 20 contemporary art galleries, including many of the best in town, flocked to PDC's bargain rents in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown; since then, most have flourished, and securing spaces has become competitive. The gallery program is called "Design Loves Art," and it's true, they really do. With painting, photography, video art, sculpture, installation and genre-blurring experiments on offer, attendance at the coordinated opening-night events has been growing but still lags way behind what the quality of the art deserves. It's true that the Blue Whale's famous architectural profile is both intimidating from the outside and awkward on the inside, plus it really isn't open Saturdays except by appointment. But the rewards for chucking your skepticism are high. Ignore the carpet and tube lights, it's totally worth the trip to the mall. 8687 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd. (310) 657-0800, pacificdesigncenter.com.
—Shana Nys Dambrot