1. UCLA Hammer Museum. Seriously but not self-consciously cutting-edge, contemporary and historical. Coming: top-to-bottom renovation.
2. Laguna Art Museum. Meta-hip, swinging between the trenchant (Sandow Birk’s L.A.–Bay Area “war” paintings) and the reflective (still looking at and making California art history).
3. Cal State Galleries. From CSULA’s Luckman Gallery to Long Beach’s University Art Museum, along with more locally tuned galleries at Fullerton, Northridge and San Bernardino, the L.A.-area State U. galleries haven’t been this smart and lively since Proposition 13.
4. MAK Center. Not just the Schindler houses, but what and whom the Austrians and Angelenos put in them: architecture, photography, video, music, film, from Frederick Kiesler to Dennis Hopper to Pauline Oliveros to mittel-europaisch tyros drunk on L.A.
5. Chinatown. My Chinatown, our East Village artist-gallery youthquake scene, only with dim sum instead of pierogis.
6. Pepperdine University’s Frederick R. Weisman Museum. Along with quirky gems from Fred’s fabled collection, an exhibition schedule of surprises and scholarly substance.
7. K-Bond. Best-designed and most ambitious among the new multitiered boutiques-cum-bookstores-cum-galleries, it constantly pushes all the envelopes with clever exhibits as well as cool merchandise.
8. Daniel Weinberg Gallery. Devotion to artists’ artists of a previous generation — Lee Bontecou, Ralph Humphrey, Jo Baer — has stunned young artsters and warmed the cockles of oldsters’ hearts.
9. Santa Monica Museum. New director, new direction, more media (Valie Export), more East Coast imports (survey of young African-American artists); you never know what’s coming next.
10. Track 16. The personal is political; from Northern Ireland to southern Spain, 1970s punk to 9/11 New York, even the less engagé stuff shown here changes hearts and minds (and rewrites art and social history).