Los Angeles garners attention as art hub

Los Angeles is seen as many things: cultural hotspot, nightlife hub, entertainment capital.

Missing from that list is “legendary art center.” The cities more likely to come to mind are the traditional bastions of art like Paris and New York City.

Looking to change that perspective is a 60-plus museum and gallery collaboration aptly named “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.”

The program features a dazzling collection of artists and pieces with the hope of exposing the artistic vibrancy of post-World War II Los Angeles. The program officially begins Saturday and a number of institutions — from the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts to the Hammer Museum to LA><Art — will offer free admission Sunday.

The six-month-long program should prove an enticing playground for art lovers, with everything from light sculptures to photographs to paintings. The program will also feature exhibitions by well-known artists such as Judy Chicago and Chuck Close.

The program, as with any single art exhibition, will have major costs, but The Getty has been generous with its financial support. The Getty gave $2.7 million to local museums to help with the exhibitions and supplied $7 million for the planning and research of the exhibition and upcoming performance-art festival. The Getty also funded an advertising campaign featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lead singer Anthony Kiedis chatting about art with prominent American Pop artist Ed Ruscha.

These sweeping efforts stem from the fact that creating — and investing in — such a huge project is risky. The art world, unfortunately, is not quite fully merged with mainstream culture. The large advertisement effort proves The Getty is also trying to reach a larger audience than the usual art lovers and to entice it into visiting Los Angeles’ museums and galleries.

By emphasizing Los Angeles as a legitimate art center, the program also hopes to reach out to tourists who would normally visit places like New York and Paris to get their art fix.

If the parties involved play their cards right, the initiative could very well attract a large number of people outside of the usual circle of fervent art lovers. “Pacific Standard Time” could ride the wave of momentum that has stemmed from popular Los Angeles art events such as the recently closed “Art in the Streets” exhibition and the monthly Downtown Art Walk.

In fact, “Pacific Standard Time” would be wise to recognize the natural curiosity of the Angelenos who have a budding curiosity in art. The program is admirable for focusing on amping up Los Angeles’ reputation as an international center of art, but it should be noted it’s the locals, not the tourists, who can take advantage of what the city has to offer.

Though the title “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980” might sound like a history textbook, the enormous variety of works from so many different galleries should excite and intrigue gallery-goers. In fact, many of the exhibitions work to capture the heart of Los Angeles and the spirit of many historic moments.

“Dennis Hopper: Vintage Photographs from the ’60s” at Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica is a perfect example of this. In Hopper’s photographs, you can see a gritty, Instagram-like style that was created without the help of the now-popular iPhone application.

With art from feminist, African-American and Chicano artists, “Pacific Standard Time” is also conscious of addressing the cultural diversity of the city.

“Pacific Standard Time” is risky in its ambition, but its undertaking alone proves that Los Angeles has an artistic energy that should be appreciated by both tourists and natives alike.


Eva Recinos is a junior majoring in creative writing. Her column “Art Box” runs Thursdays.