Don’t Call It a Renaissance… Quite Yet

slide1In the midst of galleries closing and various art programs being cut (that is, except for the film program at LACMA – victory!), Los Angeles has against all odds been able to support its growing, newly thriving art scene through some trial and error, a lot of financial support, and even more elbow grease.  Pre-recession, many of our institutions and artists were beginning to make their way in the world of art that has long left Los Angeles on the back burner.  Not to make it sound that we’re a world apart, although it may be wise to start requiring passports to get in and out of this crazy city – but until recently we were one of the only major, metropolitan cities, for example, without its own ballet company.  As we all know, the city and its talents have attracted some very well known names that have done much to make our presence known around the world.  Without beating a dead horse, Placido Domingo at LA Opera, both Esa Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel at the LA Philharmonic, the Annenbergs for photography, and the Broads for theatre and contemporary art have all made strides on behalf of the City of Angels that have not only secured us a spot on the map, but have tried to make sure that our spot accurately reflects our city.

Regardless of our “earthquakes, riots, fires” and that pesky recession, Los Angeles has stepped up to the plate and maintained its stance on art as a worthy, necessary part of our cultural fabric.  On LACMA’s campus, for example, we’re getting a new building in 2010 donated by Lynda and Stewart Resnick.  Designed by master architect Renzo Piano and currently under construction, the building is adjacent to the Broad Contemporary and will look out onto the planned Jeff Koons piece Train – a seventy-foot replica of a 1940s train car.  It’s not a stretch to imagine that what Frank Gehry did for the Walt Disney Concert Hall, so Renzo Piano will do for LACMA once again. 

Our surviving and championing ballet company, Los Angeles Ballet, is headed by Co-Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, the latter of whom is a member of the George Balanchine Trust – a group of dancers with exclusive permission to stage Balanchine’s works.  It’s an opportunity to perform pieces that no previous incarnation of an LA-based ballet company has been afforded.  So far they’ve successfully staged Serenade and Rubies among others and will continue with See the Music, Hear the Dance in February 2010. 

Eli and Edythe Broad continue to change and illuminate LA’s artistic landscape by announcing plans to build a contemporary art museum in Beverly Hills.  The decision came when the Broads decided last year to keep their illustrious collection rather than donate it to MOCA – the new museum will house said collection.  Not to mention, they saved the day for MOCA last winter.

Even as galleries are closing and museums are going bankrupt, LA has seen the expansion of a number of spaces including Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, Blum & Poe, Roberts & Tilton, and Cherry and Martin in Culver City.  Our little nook of a neighborhood, Culver City, has become the nexus for the international art world right before our eyes. January will see the start of the Grant for New Projects, which will be born from Sandroni.Rey, a contemporary art gallery also in Culver City.  The new organization will support and raise funds for curators as well as emerging local artists. It comes at a time when not-for-profits are closing, California’s budget is a hot mess (and not in a good way), and arts and music programs are being cut from schools across the country.  Is there a more vital time to not only recognize, but also support the burgeoning arts scene in this city?  How do I love thee?  Let me list the ways…

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