Los Angeles’s Must-See Galleries, Museums, and Art-World Watering Holes

Los Angeles’s Must-See Galleries, Museums, and Art-World Watering Holes

Photo of Le Meridien Santa Monica
An Arts & Culture map by

Large galleries, warm weather, revolutionary art schools and collective work spaces for artist make Los Angeles a hotbed for cultural innovation. Here are some of the most original contemporary galleries in the City of Flowers and Sunshine.

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    “For a snack or lunch, Japanese cafe Yuko Kitchen is a local favorite, with charming proprietors and sushi specials, and homemade desserts, that can’t be beat,” hints Korek.
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    “The institution often presents exhibitions of new work that employs traditional techniques, and their shop is one of LA’s best-loved stores,” says Korek.
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    The null is the lynchpin of L.A. art, with its huge campus offering one of the most impressive art-going experiences in the country. “Urban Light, null’s sculpture made up of lampposts from across L.A., is a 24-hour selfie attraction,” says Korek. “And located within LACMA, Dagny Corcoran’s famous bookstore, Art Catalogues, consistently hosts some of best conversations with artists in the city. Check the daily calendar online.” 
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    The La Brea Tar Pits are a National Historic Landmark, a notorious mass of naturally occurring asphalt that’s billed as the “world’s most famous ice-age excavation site”—prehistoric animals were trapped and ultimately preserved by the tar. “Where else can you travel back in time to when dinosaurs roamed and 10 minutes later visit a contemporary art gallery?” says Korek.
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    Artist null, whose studio is in Culver, recommends heading due east to the adjacent West Adams neighborhood, where emerging artist-run spaces Ms Barbers are cropping up.
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    Ebgi also suggests stopping at Arcana, an art bookstore in the Helms Bakery District, full of excellent new and rare used tomes. “Arcana is one of the best resources for art books in the entire city,” she explains. “It's really worth taking some time here to browse their collection.”
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    Right in the middle of gallery row is the Mandrake, a laidback artist-run bar—and the perfect spot to quaff a potion after gallery hopping, according to Anat Ebgi, whose space sits right next door. “We often come here after our openings for drinks,” she notes.
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    An ultra-luxury hotel with a fabulous art collection (think David Hockney), Shutters on the Beach is also the home of Coast, a quiet restaurant with a perfect view of the beautiful, blue California coastline (again, think David Hockney). The lobster roll is one of the best in the city.
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    A defunct trolley depot—soon-to-reopen as a stop on the light railway Expo Line connecting Downtown with Santa Monica—Bergamot Station has doubled as a mainstay arts complex since 1994. Across the property, a mix of highbrow and lowbrow galleries, including Patrick Painter Inc.,null, Craig Krull Gallery, and null, join art and design studios, event spaces, and cafes.
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    ALAC, now in its seventh year, is the crux of L.A. art week, playing host to over 70 galleries—plus several more in their new program, Freeways, which gathers galleries less than four years old. Look out for talks, lectures, and performances, too—including null’s much-anticipated collaboration with the Centennial High School marching band.
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