LA><ART’s Sanya Kantarovsky facade.
Los Angeles is known for its multiple centers. The recent expansion of galleries in Hollywood has led some to call it the “new” Culver City, but the roots of this preeminent gallery district are deep. Culver City is as crucial and thriving a neighborhood for art— and increasingly, food—as ever, reflecting the strengthening ecosystem for contemporary art in L.A.
The strip of La Cienega between Venice and Washington Boulevards is home to a critical mass of galleries and spaces. Nonprofit LA><ART, run by director/curator Lauri Firstenberg, is recognized internationally for launching and rediscovering artists, priding itself on being “led by artists.” Even the facade of the building is used as a canvas. Its benefit editions make great gifts or works for your burgeoning collection.
Linder installation view, Blum and Poe.
Across the street, powerhouse gallery Blum & Poe’s 21,000-square-foot Escher GuneWardena complex provides plenty of room for its artists, including Takashi Murakami and Jim Shaw, to present major exhibitions. I never miss Susanne Vielmetter, Cherry and Martin, Honor Fraser, or International Art Objects (walk around the corner east of Venice Boulevard). Also check out Nye + Brown, Roberts & Tilton, Luis De Jesus, and Taylor De Cordoba. A longer walk or short drive away south on La Cienega, check out both of David Kordansky’s spaces. He’s reportedly set to move out of the neighborhood in 2014 to a 25,000-square-foot space on La Brea.
Books are a crucial part of any connoisseur’s practice, and Johnston-Marklee-designed Arcana in Culver City is one of the best places in L.A. for browsing. & Pens Press nearby is great for zines.
For organic, hearty California food, try stalwart Akasha or Muddy Leek—I love the chicken potpie, and definitely save room for dessert. Foodies won’t want to miss Lukshon, in the alleyway behind the Helms Bakery complex, from the chef of nearby Father’s Office, which is known for its burgers. Be warned that modifications are “politely declined” there. For Mexican, try E K Valley, and the burrata pie at Wildcraft Pizza. Salvadorian nightclub El Baron serves up great pupusas, and the Mandrake Bar is the “go-to” watering hole for artists and curators. For dessert, ice cream sandwich truck Coolhaus opened a brick-and-mortar shop for its “architecturally inspired” desserts.
Finally, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is one of my favorite places for a view of L.A. There are two routes up—steep stairs or around a gentle road—and you’ll be rewarded with a unique north-facing perspective on my City of Angels.
Photos: Courtesy of LA><ART; Joshua White