LA Art Scene, California

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:: Scroll down to view the artist and curator Snezana Saraswati Petrovic's presentation on the LA Art Scene below ::

Snezana Saraswati Petrovic, LRC Gallery Director and Curator (Crafton Hills College), CA •

The LA Art Scene and Its Opportunities

Los Angeles is an expanding gallery scene with no rules and no center. Between 2013 and 2015, 50 galleries opened ­­– a faster rate than anywhere in the USA. New art neighborhoods are now booming in an area stretching from Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) to Santa Monica - on a good day, with no traffic, this is all within a 30-minute driving radius. And smaller communities such as MacArthur Park, West Adams, Boyle Heights, Venice and Silver Lake have built artist neighborhoods as well.

Lori Garboushian, a collector and Beverly Hills gallery owner, stated that “LA is known to be the number one art production center in the world. The LA arts scene is one of diverse talent,” he said, “although figurative and abstract expressionism seems to be on the rise again.” Opinions on what style is dominating are as varied as the city’s artistic production itself. Los Angeles County Museum Director Michael Govan observed that there is “a lot of esoteric, less market-driven, more idea and art-driven art.” With this in mind, one wonders if there is a market to support the growth.

Linda Vallejo, a Los Angeles-based artist, graded the openness of LA’s art scene to new artists within the community as “very open,” but also noted that it was “always difficult” for artists to break into the galleries and museums.

Some artists recommend and choose an academic career instead of gallery representation. Such is the case of Ulysses Jenkins, a professor at the University of California, Irvine whose work is in the Whitney and Getty Museums’ collections.

Unlike critics in other art centers, LA art critics are actively involved with galleries that have become access points for many emerging and mid-career artists - e.g. Gallery 825 and the LA Art Association. Gallery director Peter Mays offers biannual open calls locally as well as on a national and international level in addition to art business-related workshops and portfolio reviews. Like Shana Nys Dumbot, another critic and art writer, Peter Frank perceives the galleries’ role as a liaison “that gives context to the art work.”

Because of the large amount of growth and limited availability in museums and galleries, artists in LA are creating their own opportunities and assuming a more active role, finding new spaces and audiences.

Opportunities for artists’ residencies are now growing in LA, and many residencies are run as artist-directed initiatives, such as “The Brewery” in DTLA. To add to the exploding LA gallery scene, there are several rentable galleries listed on Yelp. Some have specialized reputations and are within the vicinity of well-established galleries. Artists are also taking on managerial roles and helping emerging artists through institutions such as Kristine Shoemaker’s ShoeBox or Jae Young’s Art Merge Lab, which defy the traditional gallery model by becoming more digital.

Regardless of accessibility, all of the interviewed art professionals agreed that the LA scene is not cutthroat like New York’s – that it is currently growing, that anything is possible there. Liz Gordon, a gallerist and collector, calls LA’s art scene “hot” even though “it is extremely difficult for a gallery to make it.”

In conclusion, get out to LA and, like Garboushian says, “Take a risk, take a risk, take a risk!”