Angelenos are Flocking to SoCal's Growing Art Scene

By Spencer Beck | June 3, 2019 | Culture

This summer, trade in Malibu, the movies and Disneyland for the wonderful world of SoCal art.


Once upon a time, LA’s main attractions were its Beach Blanket Bingo beaches, Hollywood and nearby Disneyland. Boy, has that changed. These days, tourists and natives alike are flocking to the city’s burgeoning global art scene in record numbers.

Only half a century ago, that scene was limited to a few nascent museums and a stretch of galleries on North La Cienega (where a young Pittsburgh-born artist named Andy Warhol famously first exhibited his series of painted Campbell’s soup cans).

Early SoCal institutions like LACMA and the jewel-like Norton Simon, in Pasadena, are today vastly improved affairs, with benefactor donations and expansions that have exceeded their early founders’ dreams. In 1997, the J. Paul Getty Trust forever put LA on the international art-world map with the longawaited and much ballyhooed debut of the Getty Center on a sprawling hilltop site in Brentwood. Its designation at the time as the “richest museum in the world” perfectly fit our golden slice of California, where everything, from El Nino rains to studio movie budgets, is somehow oversized. The Getty’s upcoming Bauhaus megashow (opening June 11), with its hallmark mix of academic aplomb, visual theatrics and interactive exercises, promises to be a typically comprehensive tour de force.

Today, the Getty, MOCA, The Broad, the Hammer, the Marciano Art Foundation and a panoply of galleries and artists’ studios stretching from Venice to Downtown’s exploding Arts District have sealed Los Angeles’ place as the very epicenter of the global art world. So as temps continue to rise this season, get out and get some culture “cool” in our art-obsessed city, where star power and “show” biz are no longer relegated to the Hollywood backlot or movie screen.