You know you live in a great art city when, in the span of four short days, you see Patti Smith paying tribute in song and spoken word to her old friend Harry Smith at the Hammer; paw through bins of rare zines and artist-generated literary journals at Art Los Angeles Contemporary; watch 45 of your favorite local artists, architects, writers, curators, and collectors pay homage to personally significant images at a benefit for X-TRA magazine; scan the future of art by visiting the studios of current UCLA fine arts grads; almost see Rachel Whiteread (who called in sick and was replaced by her curator) give a walkthrough of her excellent Drawings exhibition at the Hammer; ponder the latest performance piece by Dawn Kasper at the goodbye party for Circus Gallery; and finally, catch no less than Dan Graham (yes, the real Dan Graham) and Stephen Kaltenbach in three rare and quietly publicized performances at Overduin and Kite. Whew!!
I don’t even want to discuss the events I was forced to miss (Fashion 2012 lecture at Sea and Space, the latest Fucked Up Drawing Party, Whiteread opening, Doin’ It Live artist talks, Pieter PASD dance performances, etc. etc.), because frankly, I’m not used to this phenomenon of having to miss awesome things. In places like New Mexico, where I used to live, you’d get about a handful of awesome things every year—just enough to prevent stupefying boredom. But here in LA, there is usually an average of five or six awesome things happening on any given day or night—and usually, each one is packed with happy, appreciative fans.
In the wake of this Maximum Art Overdrive weekend, it is especially dumbfounding to behold the short-sightedness of the City of Los Angeles, which is now threatening to seriously hobble, and possibly eliminate, the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). The DCA annually awards $2.2 million in grants to artists and arts organizations. As a concrete example of just one of the amazing projects that would be adversely affected by this cut, check out Actions, Conversations, and Intersections, a three-month long festival of participatory projects by Los Angeles–based artists and collectives. Featuring a broad-ranging selection of artists known for doing progressive and engaging work, Actions… is sponsored by the DCA and takes place at their Municipal Art Gallery, which has been home to so many important exhibitions, fairs, and arts events over the years.
Oh, and two more words: Watts Towers. Restored and operated by the DCA since 1975! Hello!!
Our community’s Facebook pages and email inboxes have been awash with pleas to email or call city council members, and to attend tomorrow morning’s Council meeting at City Hall. Please do what you can to help. And remember to breathe.