Most gallery owners have offices tucked away at the back of their white-walled spaces. If a desk is near the entrance, it's often occupied by a self-conscious assistant or an administrator steeped in paperwork. Not so at Chinatown's Jancar Gallery. The big desk is right there on your left as soon as you walk in, and it's usually occupied by Tom Jancar himself. He'll make it a point to hand you an image list, even if he's on the phone or with a collector. Express interest in an exhibition and he'll engage you wholeheartedly, telling you quirky backstories about the artist or pulling out art books for you to page through. The man's been deep into visual art for decades, but he's managed to evade the wariness and pretension that seem to come with the territory in favor of infectious, utopian enthusiasm. 961 Chung King Road, Chinatown. (213) 625-2522,

—Catherine Wagley

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