Events

What Does It Mean to Be an LA Artist Today?

Artists from all over the world have flocked to the city, raising the question of what exactly it means to be an “Angeleno artist.”

Los Angeles (photo by Shana Lutker)

As a contemporary art center, Los Angeles has undergone an incredible transformation over the past decade or so. Homegrown artists have received greater national and global recognition, while established international galleries have set up LA outposts. At the same time, artists from all over the world have flocked to the city, raising the question of what exactly it means to be an “Angeleno artist.”

Longstanding LA art journal X-TRA contemporary art quarterly, delves into this question with their fourth X-TRA Forum, a series of public programs that use X-TRA’s archives as a source of inspiration for discussions. Titled “Views from Here: A Panel Discussion About Being Based in LA,” this week’s talk looks back to a 1997 review written by artist Michelle Grabner of the Eagle Rock Show. Organized by Laura Owens, the group show featured work by artists based around the neighborhood of Eagle Rock, and offered “a great model for refining not only art production and installation craft but social skills and generosity,” according to Grabner. In the ensuing two decades, Owens’s profile has steadily risen, though success has not come without conflict, evident in the controversy surrounding 356 Mission, the now-shuttered Boyle Heights art space founded by Owens which was a flashpoint in the debate over art and gentrification. Considering the LA art world’s heterogeneous and fractured identity, are those ideals of communal charitableness still evident today?

Moderated by Grabner, the discussion will also include artist Jennifer Bolande, whose appropriation-laden works are currently on view at Pio Pico; Neha Choksi, whose current exhibition Elementary at 18th Street Arts Center is the result of a year-long performance as a kindergarten student; Courtney Fink, executive director of Common Field, an advocacy group for independent arts organizations; Galia Linn, a sculptor, installation artist, and founder of Blue Roof Studios in South LA;  Shana Lutker, interdisciplinary artist and executive director of Project X Foundation for Art & Criticism, the nonprofit publisher of X-TRA; Forrest Olivo, founder of Contemporary Art Daily; artist Paul Pescador, whose film on the history of LA recently debuted at the Main Museum; and Paul Mpagi Sepuya, whose photographic works explore the relationship between artist and model. The panel represents the diverse nature of LA’s contemporary art community, comprising midwesterner Grabner, transplants like Fink, who previously ran San Francisco’s Southern Exposure for 13 years, and SoCal natives like Pescador and Sepuya.

When: Saturday, December 15, 2–4pm
Where: Human Resources (410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown, Los Angeles)

More info at X-TRA.

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