What To Do In Los Angeles During Frieze Week
Arcana Book Shop. Photograph by Mr Joshua White, courtesy of Arcana Book Shop
It may seem a bit strange now – given that many art stars, from Mr Sterling Ruby to Mr Thomas Houseago and our friend Mr Mark Bradford, make their home there today – but for much of the latter half of the 20th century, Los Angeles wasn’t one of the art capitals of the world. There were artists there, of course, and great ones. The Venice guys, Messrs Ed Ruscha, Ed Moses and Robert Graham, were pretty famous. The Light artists, Messrs Larry Bell, Richard Irwin, Doug Wheeler and James Turrell, were in shows in New York, but Los Angeles itself lacked the lauded galleries and museums of other thriving markets.
As the art world, and the world around it, changed (and everything from fashion to celebrity to art all sort of merged together), Mr John Baldessari became, well, if not the voice, then the animating spirit of Los Angeles art. Like his word paintings, he was witty and casual and funny and profound. Like his iconic dot paintings, he was a bit sly, and totally pop. He even looked the part of a sage at 6ft 7in, with a long, shaggy guru’s beard. And he was taken up by popular culture, too, working with the Rodarte designers, art directing stories for Vogue, palling around with Mr Tom Waits and working with Mr Frank Gehry. When people thought of Los Angeles art, they probably thought of the brilliant blue skies and cartoon vividness of his work, of its silliness and its depth.
We lost Mr Baldessari last month, and both the city and the art world are poorer for it. But in recent years, the city’s own art world has itself become a giant, like he was, with mega galleries selling the works of star artists, and powerful museums are brokered by celebrity curators, as well as, importantly, a great festival: Los Angeles’s Frieze Fair, arranged by Ms Bettina Korek in the backlot of Paramount Studios. The fair is a great way to wade into the city, navigate some of its mythos (on the hallowed grounds where Chinatown was made, after all) and see work by the new and next vanguard of its artists.
So, go, and get in the mindset of Mr Baldessari. Look at the city in all of its wonderful weirdness. Go and see some of his work. And while you’re there, consider stopping by (or staying at) the following LA destinations.
The Broad. Photograph by Mr Mike Kelley, courtesy of The Broad
The billionaire philanthropist Mr Eli Broad more or less singlehandedly supported the arts scene in Los Angeles for decades, and his great Downtown museum, opened in 2015, has one of the better collections of Mr Baldessari’s work anywhere. Like a true Angeleno, the Broad has invested a good deal in its outside appearance, and the weird, wonderful, webby exterior designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler made it instantly famous upon its completion. What’s inside is pretty special, too. The Broad has some of the best modern masters’ collections on Earth. Currently, you can lose yourself in two of Ms Yayoi Kusama’s immersive infinity rooms or, from 8 February, take a trip through the oeuvre of stencil-obsessed New York artist Mr Christopher Wool.
Smoked trout tostada at Onda. Photograph by DYLAN + JENI, courtesy of Onda
Jetsetters, foodies, cool kids – everyone who has been to Ms Gabriela Camara’s Contramar in Mexico City knows that it is one of the world’s great restaurants. The food, the vibe and the scene are totally unmatched, as is the excitement around the opening of her latest restaurant, Onda, in Los Angeles. Add to that the fact that Ms Camara’s partner in the endeavour is Ms Jessica Koslow – well-known as proprietor of the ultimate Angeleno café Sqirl – and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect: bright, fresh, full-flavoured LA-style food with a little Mexican gusto. We could not be more game. Onda is situated in one of the more beautiful new hotels in the world, the Santa Monica Proper, designed by Ms Kelly Wearstler and choc-a-bloc with tan leather DeSede sofas, delicious rugs, gauzy curtains and pottery by the great ceramicist Mr David Cressey.
Soho Warehouse rooftop. Photograph courtesy of Soho Warehouse
We happen to really love the design aesthetic of Soho House and in its new digs downtown, the somewhat industrial, decadent, nouveau-y vibe just hits the spot. In a stretch of town that has a few of our favourite restaurants – Bestia and Guerilla Tacos – and a hop, skip and jump from where many LA designers, including Mr Rhuigi Villaseñor of Rhude, are producing their wares, the new Soho Warehouse is nicely situated as a place to hole up in the middle of the day, or watch the sun set at the end of one.
The WeHo EDITION
The Deluxe King Room at The West Hollywood EDITION. Photograph courtesy of The West Hollywood EDITION
The brand new West Hollywood EDITION has been all over Instagram since its opening, to no one’s surprise. Of course, Mr Ian Schrager, EDITION honcho and creator of Studio 54, knows how to throw a party, and the architect Mr John Pawson who designed the spot, across from the old Whisky-a-Go-Go, really did a number with all of the marble. The rooftop pool is beautiful, and presents one of those uncanny things that we love so much in Los Angeles: a new view of the skyline. There is probably no better place in the city right now to see and be seen.
Remedy Place lounge. Photograph by Ms Madeline Tolle, courtesy of Remedy Place
After all the partying, though, you’ll want to do as the Angelenos do and go hard on the self-care. Pack up all your serums and Erewhon smoothies and join Remedy Place, which bills itself as the world’s first wellness social club, and offers precisely the sort of treatments you’ll need the morning after. (They call them “rebalance antidotes” and involve hyperbaric chambers, the sauna and chiropractics, of course.) Dr Jonathan Leary, “LA’s first and only wellness concierge”, who began his practice working with Olympic athletes, founded Remedy as a place to restore balance for the rest of us schlubs. It’s also gorgeous. This wall of kentia palm by the pool just does it for us.
Arcana bookshop. Photograph by Mr Joshua White, courtesy of Arcana
If you can make it out to Culver City (and, do, because Lukshon and Father’s Office are awesome), Arcana bookstore in the old Helms bakery complex is one of the great bookstores in the world. It’s also a summons to a more sensual time, when we leafed through great big blocks of photography books, art books, architecture books, looking for we-knew-not-what, but always finding something incredible, something inspiring, something that we needed and held onto, other than our phones.