If you’re looking for art in Los Angeles, look no further than the Miracle Mile. Already known for its museums, food scene, shopping, and walkability, the area also is a hub of art galleries.
The Ace Museum, 400 S. La Brea Ave., is currently finalizing permits with the city for its upcoming exhibitions, to be announced at a later date. In the meantime, the silver statue on the corner of Fourth St. continues to gaze out over La Brea Ave. and raise more questions than answers. For those who are curious, the statue was created by the avant-garde art duo known as the Gao Brothers, Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang. The brothers are known for pushing political boundaries of artistic expression in Communist China, and the statue on La Brea is no exception. The statue is titled “Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head.”
According to the Ace Museum, “the 20-foot tall chrome statue is a portrait of former Socialist revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin, whose enormous head serves as the slippery slope onto which a small figure of Mao holding a balancing stick is perched. Beyond Mao’s miniscule scale, the Brothers further marginalized the former leader by portraying him with female genitalia. This is in direct reference to the control exercised over him by his third wife and former actress, Jiang Qing, who rose to political power during the 1960s. The sculpture is now banned for re-entry into China due to its highly controversial nature.”
That’s just a taste of the groundbreaking, cutting-edge, handmade, traditional and contemporary art you can find within the boundaries of the Miracle Mile.
One year ago, famed art gallery Sprueth Magers, 5900 Wilshire Blvd., which also sports locations in Berlin, London and Hong Kong, opened its doors on the Miracle Mile. The Rhineland-based art gallery has received a warm welcome as it rotates art exhibitions that focus on groundbreaking modern and contemporary art; many of its artists hailing from the German and American art scenes.
Current and upcoming exhibitions include Llyn Foulkes, Jon Rafman, Stan Vanderbeek and Analia Saban.
Tarfest, a free festival of music and art celebrating local artists, will be back at the La Brea Tar Pits on Sat., Sept. 23 (date is tentative).
“We like to showcase alternative art forms and people who don’t get a platform as easily as other groups,” says James Panozzo, executive director of Launch LA, a non-profit art gallery and event company based on La Brea Ave. Now in its 15th year, Tarfest features live music performances, live painting and sculpting, food trucks, free kids’ activities and a biergarten for the older crowd.
Sponsored by Launch LA, Tarfest adheres to the group’s mission that “exposure to the arts enhances quality of life and strengthens community through the shared appreciation of creative expression in all its forms and hybrids.”
One of the newer gallery additions to the neighborhood is Jill Joy Gallery. After first looking at art spaces downtown, Joy moved her hunt further and further west until she finally found the perfect space at 456 S. La Brea Ave. Opened on Oct. 8, the gallery is a showroom that features mostly the contemporary art of its owner, operator and namesake artist, Jill Joy.
“I wanted a space where I could make contemporary art accessible to the general public,” says Joy of her Miracle Mile location.
Joy’s art focuses on “spiritually based contemporary art.” Her current exhibition, called “Consciousness,” involves the mind, body and spirit.
“It’s the study of consciousness, things that evolve in us as human beings and hopefully as a society,” says Joy.
Her next exhibition, “Illumination,” will feature minimal, light-based works and will debut in April.
Other galleries in the area include KP Projects (Merry Karnowsky Gallery), 170 S. La Brea Ave., which focuses on contemporary pop surrealism and street art, Fahey/Klein Gallery, 148 N. La Brea Ave., centering on contemporary fine art photography, The Loft at Liz’s, 453 S. La Brea Ave., a fine arts space that highlights emerging and established artists and diverse points of view, and the David Kordansky Gallery, 5130 W. Edgewood Pl., which features 20,000-square feet of gallery space, including two large galleries, offices, a library and gardens.
That’s just a taste of the groundbreaking, cutting-edge, handmade, traditional and contemporary art you can find within and adjacent to the Miracle Mile.
“It’s a great place to have a gallery, here in the cultural core of the city, surrounded by shops, museums and restaurants,” affirms Launch LA’s Panozzo.
By Sondi Toll Sepenuk