25 Alternative L.A. Art Spaces to Check Out Now
|A day of haircuts and popsicles at Actual Size|
Way off the beaten path
Actual Size: A relative closet
At this tiny, adventurous space on the far reaches of Chinatown, I've seen some terrific exhibitions of photographic and sculptural works, as well as an arm-wrestling tournament, a day of free haircuts and themed Popsicles, and a 12-hour song cycle. Says co-founder Corrie Siegel of Actual Size's philosophy: "There is no distinction between the more established artists and the people who haven't had many shows. Instead, it's about developing an intimacy with the work and the artist's focus in order to create an experience that allows you to feel connected." 741 New High St., Chinatown. (213) 290-5458, actualsizela.com.
Commonwealth and Council: We dare you to find it
Run by Young Chung, Commonwealth and Council is located on the second floor of a dilapidated building, alongside a Korean church, an acupuncture practice and one of the city's oldest Latino AA meeting spaces. Here, you can follow an art party with a trip downstairs to OB Bear for a pitcher of Hite beer and some amazing Korean fried chicken. The current show, by Jennifer Moon, thoughtfully explores life and love through aspects of the artist's nine-month incarceration at Valley State Prison for Women. 3006 W. Seventh St. #220, Koreatown; commonwealthandcouncil.com.
Courtesy JB Jurve The broken sign that gave JB Jurve its name
JB Jurve: Head downstairs for all your travel needs
JB Jurve shares its funky Chinatown space with the ladies of Jumbo Travel agency, whose broken sign provided the inspiration for the space's name. Founders Marcus Herse and Michael Rey have a knack for the elusive and unexpected, as seen in last year's show about "flakiness," for example. Recently JB Jurve's oddness hit its apex with a shockingly conventional, and excellent, show of paintings by local star Lari Pittman, and some of his former students, an indicator of how artist networks fuel programming in this city. 742 N. Broadway, Chinatown; jbjurve.com.
Carol Cheh A view of Mario Cutajar's "Civil War" show at JB Jurve
Latned Atsär: The myth of the Rastafarian dentist
Jefferson Park, a neighborhood adjacent to West Adams, is home to soul-food joints, jazz clubs and mom-and-pop businesses. In recent years its low rents and funky, out-of-the-way feel have attracted an increasing number of artists, one of whom, Nathan Danilowicz, decided to open Latned Atsär. The name is the backward spelling of Rasta Dental, a mythological business that might have existed in the space long before Danilowicz moved in. It has shown an impressive roster of artists, including Annie Lapin, Brenna Youngblood, Kenneth Tam and Mark Dutcher, and boasts a historic bar scavenged from Tom Marioni's The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends Is the Highest Form of Art, a 2010 performance at the Hammer, which was exactly what it sounds like. 3222 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles; latnedatsar.com.
Carol Cheh Live painting and an auction frenzy going down at Various Small Fires
Various Small Fires: Burning up in Venice
Just launched in January, the Venice-based Various Small Fires is the youngest space on this list, but it has already managed to make a big splash. For the inaugural exhibition, artist Fiona Connor created a set of movable walls that were continually rearranged to accommodate a series of events. The most recent opening, a controversial live painting performance and auction by New York artists Debo Eilers and Kerstin Brätsch, had art followers buzzing when a well-known collector's attempt to buy a large volume of works, ostensibly for the purpose of flipping, was refused. Expect to see more viral endeavors that simply won't sit still from founding director Esther Kim Varet, who is also closely associated with Performa, the big performance-art biennial out of New York. 1212 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. (310) 426-8040, vsf.la.
Carol Cheh Works by Keith Walsh at Weekend
Weekend: Bringing the party to Los Feliz
Run by two former CalArts students, Weekend is forging its own nascent art community in Los Feliz, across the street from Wacko Soap Plant. Proprietors Jay Erker and John Mills, a husband-and-wife team, have a great eye for talent; an excellent show last fall by underrated artist Keith Walsh, which featured compelling drawings and a stunning spaceship sculpture visitors could climb into, garnered a well-deserved Artforum Critic's Pick. 4634 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; weekendspace.org.
1200-D N. Alvarado St., Los Angeles, CA