- Century City
- Culver City
Become an Art Collector, Aficionado, or Even an Artist…on a Budget
Los Angeles is often vilified as a cultural wasteland and, as five minutes on cable will tell you, for good reason. Just because we don’t see the Kardashians visiting MOCA or The World According to Paris being filmed from the Downtown Art Walk, however, doesn’t mean that our fair city isn’t home to world-class museums, galleries, and artists.
Here to relieve us of our art inferiority complex is Molly Toberer -- curator, Director of ROSEGALLERY in Santa Monica, and all-around art insider -- who has kindly agreed to share her wealth of information on making the most of LA's under-appreciated art world, Broke Girl style. As an extra treat, ROSEGALLERY will be offering two limited-edition art objects by Martin Parr at dramatically reduced prices (just mention “BGG” and you can get the plate for $45 and the tea towel for $20 - see bottom of article for photos). In addition, the gallery will be offering a selection of beautiful art books at 40% off for the entire week, July 18 - July 22.
BGG: What are the best ways to discover up-and-coming artists in LA?
MT: First off, everyone should go on the Downtown Art Walk, where artists sell work directly out of their studios on the second Thursday of every month. Another great way is by checking out the galleries in Chinatown: Charlie James Gallery, China Art Objects Gallery, Cottage Home, Fifth Floor, Jancar Gallery, L2kontemparary, Redling Fine Art, Sabina Lee Gallery, and Sam Lee Gallery. I also love the Corey Helford Gallery, which is another gallery that features a lot of emerging talent.
I also recommend that people check out the open studios held by LA universities and colleges to showcase the artwork of recent graduates on campus. This is an excellent way to meet the artists and purchase their work before they become well-known entities or hit the gallery representation world (where their prices quadruple). Some great ones that happen every semester or so are the ones at UCLA, USC, and UCR.
BGG: What are the best ways to enjoy art for free in LA?
MT: At the top of my list would be wandering around the galleries in Bergamot Station, Culver City, or Chinatown. In Century City, you can check out the Annenberg Space for Photography for free. If you’d like to visit a museum, stop by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) any day after 5 pm, when it’s free to all LA county residents, or the Hammer Museum on a Thursday, when it’s free all day.
I’m also a big fan of the free, two-hour public art tours offered by the LA Metro staff. Most people don’t know this, but some of LA’s best public art is located right off the Metro. These tours meet at Hollywood and Highland on the first Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday of every month.
In September, I’m really looking forward to Glow, an all-night cultural experience featuring original commissions by artists that re-imagine Santa Monica Beach as a playground for thoughtful and participatory temporary artworks.
Lastly, believe it or not, the airport happens to also be a good place to see free art! I recently co-curated an exhibition of large-scale surf photographs by California artist Art Brewer in terminal one of LAX. There is an ongoing exhibition program between the LA Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles World Airports in many of the terminals.
BGG: Are there any under-the-radar galleries or small museums you love?
MT: I would say that the Santa Monica Museum is one of the most underrated museums in the area. They mount world-class exhibitions and add an incredible cultural contribution to Los Angeles’ art scene. Admission is by donation.
BGG: What if you don't have an art degree, but you want to learn more about what's going on in the art world? Are there any publications or websites you would recommend?
MT: Tate Modern has an amazing (and free) online glossary where you can learn about art terms. Two books that I always recommend are The Art of Buying Art: An Insider's Guide to Collecting Contemporary Art by Paige West and The Art of Collecting Photography by Laura Noble.
BGG: Do you have any advice for people who love art and design and want to bring it into their homes, but really don't have the money to buy from galleries or expensive design stores?
MT: If you see an artist you enjoy at a gallery, it’s great to go to their personal website to see if they offer any limited edition prints, which you can usually get for less than $300, and sometimes $20! Contact them directly! For example, check out Brandi Milne’s site. I love her work! I’m also really impressed by Alia Malley, an LA-based artist who’s really hot right now. Both of these artists work with galleries but have really affordable print programs.
For a great online roster of artists, I recommend the gallery and image archive TINYVICES. Also, we can’t forget about Jen Bekman's 20 x 200 project, where you can purchase original art prints for $20!
You should also keep in mind that many independent bookstores and retailers sell limited edition art books that come with original prints at a very low cost. Here are some of my favorites: Eighth Veil; Arcana; ROSEGALLERY; LeadApron; Ooga Booga; Photo-eye; ArtBook; Giant Robot; Blackmarket; OK Store; and Pixidiom. To protect your newly-acquired artworks with affordable frames, I love Ikea’s standard black or white frames! They cost just $16 to $24.
BGG: Do you have any tips for artists (or people who just like to make art)? Are there any affordable art classes in LA?
MT: LA has a ton of affordable classes and workshops! I recommend the following: Machine Project; Blue Rooster Art Supplies; Urban Craft Center; Barnsdall Art Center; and Self Help Graphics.
Jul 18, 2011 - 09:11 AM