The New York Times last week just couldn't help getting in a little dig at L.A. when it reported, on December 23, on the Museum of Contemporary Arts' financial meltdown. After describing MOCA's embrace of Eli Broad's $30M bailout offer, Edward Wyatt and Jori Finkel wrote, “The plan avoids a painful embarrassment for Los Angeles, which has promoted itself as a leading force in contemporary art.”
Pretentious, self-promoting L.A. — that's our local art world in a nutshell.
Call us touchy, but this assessment did, after all, follow another
NYT putdown from only two days before. After dismissing the L.A. County
Museum of Art's new Broad collection as “a boilerplate bore,” Holland Cotter airly announced that
MOCA “still looks all over the place . . . It's a funny place, with its
internationalist sheen and market-driven program occasionally
interrupted by inspired, could-only-happen-here shows. The city needs a
contemporary museum, no question. [Why thank you, Mr. Cotter!] But is
this the right one?”
One can only imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth if New York's
Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim were to suddenly find themselves
threatened by the recession. Those scenarios would be described by NYT writers,
undoubtedly, in the most operatic and apocalyptic prose. The rest of us
in canebrakes like Los Angeles and San Francisco wouldn't be laughing
though, because we already know the feeling.