We’re posting a few pix here from the sprawling and electrifying “Jason Rhoades Installations, 1994-2006” exhibition at the massive Hauser & Wirth gallery in the Arts District near downtown Los Angeles. We visited this retrospective of Rhoades work last weekend and were blown away by his darkly beautiful and daring art installations. If you have time and are in L.A., we can’t highly recommend enough that you see this show.
We’re not religious. But museums are our cathedrals, our churches and temples, our shrines. MoMA may be the modern art world’s Vatican, but in terms of pure open space, MoCA’s Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles comes closest to a giant cathedral like Notre Dame with its massive, cavernous structure. We’re not saying that this museum is equivalent to Notre Dame as far as degree of architectural achievement and historical significance. We’re saying that it is a big fucking space and one that invites reflection and a kind of awe.
The Geffen was kind of a happy accident. The building wasn’t purpose built to be a contemporary art museum. The structure is in LIttle Tokyo in Downtown LA and was originally built in the 1940s for the city as a warehouse and LA Police Department garage accommodating hundreds of vehicles. At the time, MoCA’s use of the space was purely practical.
While the main landmark MoCA branch was being built on nearby Grand Avenue in the early 1980s, the warehouse/garage in Little Tokyo was used as a temporary exhibition space dubbed the “Temporary Contemporary.” Its purpose was to host art shows until construction of the new main MoCA would be completed. The acquisition of the building made sense. The Temporary Contemporary was a success.
It was repurposed as a permanent exhibition space and extension of MoCA. Architect Frank Gehry led the effort. The Geffen’s location is walking distance to the main MoCA location in Downtown LA, and the former LAPD garage offers the kind of space that allows for sprawling exhibitions and epic, large-scale sculptural artworks and installations that might be more diffciult or impossible to mount in other museums.
The wheat-paste street art of artist “Bunny M” depicts a mysterious mythical humanoid that reads at a glance like an artifact of dark, foreboding Japanese manga comic book illustration enshrined on the brick and stone walls of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Pictured here is one in Nolita in downtown New York City.
Black-and-white photo-realistic portraits on the exterior wall of Zinc Cafe, near Willow and Mateo streets in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. These artworks are part of a series that run along the entire wall. The area has become a bit of a mecca for street art — and art in general — in recent years amid the rapid gentrification of the area and the growth in the number of entertainment production companies that have set up offices in the neighborhood.
On a recent visit to WiSpa, a sprawling Korean day-spa complex in Los Angeles, we spied from the spa’s rooftop lounge the top half of an elegant, old high-rise building in the distance. Atop the building was its name, Royale, in large, dark blue letters.
The building is a New York-style apartment building officially known as the Royale Wilshire. It stands out in the otherwise gritty urban landscape of its neighborhood, a blighted area tucked between the fringes of Downtown LA and Koreatown. Buildings of this style, size and age are rare in Los Angeles and harken to a bygone golden era of Hollywood glamour.
In spite of our many years of frequent visits to L.A. and living in the city part-time or for short spells, we’d never seen the Royale. A renovation of the building is planned as the neighborhood itself is slowly shedding its shabby skin and giving way to the gentrification wave. We imagine the building will become re-discovered landmark as the neighborhood’s profile rises in the years ahead.