How to Experience the LA Arts Scene at Home
Explore the city’s cultural offerings from afar.
It’s been six weeks since LA went on pause and we’re all losing our rah-rah let’s-learn-how-to-make-sourdough-bread-and-binge-watch-Succession-and-order-a-pasta-kit-from-Felix spirit. Been there, done that. (And while we’re at it, most of those Joe Exotic memes stopped being clever like three weeks ago.) But, alas, we’re still stuck at home and we don’t know when this is going to end, so we might as well find some new stuff to do. If it feels like forever since you checked out a museum, saw a live performance or heard a semi-intelligent discussion that didn’t involve what you’re going to eat, there are lots of ways to delve into area arts experiences virtually right now. You can check out current exhibits, jump in on a talk with working artists, watch the LA Phil perform, or create your own work of art at home with help from local experts. You’ll stay busy and learn something. And that’s about as good as it gets right now.
Check out current exhibits
The silver lining of this whole thing is you can hit some of the city’s top museums in a single afternoon. Browse art from The Broad’s current collection, from fabled Warhols to Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog to poppy paintings by Lichtenstein. On the Getty’s site, you can access three online exhibits including Michelangelo: Mind of the Master, which also shares background, history, and anecdotes about the wildly influential artist, or actually go inside the museum via Google Art and Culture, featuring 360-views of many of the permanent collections. At Natural History Museum of LA’s Dinosaur Hall you can get a peek at the venue’s fossil collection and the T. Rex Growth series, and watch video of the museum’s fossil hunters making discoveries in the field. The Institute of Contemporary Art exhibits by post-minimalist visual artist Ree Morton and LA-based Ann Greene Kelly, who creates sculptures from everyday objects, are currently on view virtually. And while you usually have to pay extra for real-life access car-porn hub The Vault The Petersen Auto Museum, which is filled with some of the world’s rarest (and priciest!) cars, you can get an hour-long tour right now for free.
Get in on a lunchtime art talk
The Hammer Museum hosts live discussions centered around specific works from its collection, led by members of the curatorial team every Wednesday at 12:30pm. You have to RSVP to join and they’re not recorded, so it almost feels like a real thing. If you don’t want to commit to a schedule (why, exactly?), the museum also offers a YouTube channel featuring past conversations with famous folks including Will Ferrell and Laura Dern.
Listen to the LA Phil
Watch a mix of performances by the impressive orchestra that’s led by everyone’s favorite hometown conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl (which we’re losing hope for this upcoming summer), with shows featuring Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and big band tunes by Pink Martini, along with audio-only recordings from the (cut-short) 2019-2020 season at Disney Concert Hall.
Delve into art projects with the LACMA crew
You may not have ever considered yourself a crafty type, but at six weeks into quarantine, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying. The museum has created a Make Art @ Home video series where some of its teaching artists walk viewers through how to make collages with stuff you’re about to recycle (we’re looking at you, to-go boxes), mini-stained glass windows with Ziploc bags and nail polish, and a paper city made with, well you know.
Watch quarantined theater actors
Centre Theatre Group’s Art Goes On Project video series features short performances, monologues, and talks from artists who have performed on its stages around the city pre-COVID and are now coming to you from their living rooms. Look for Hugo Armstrong doing Shakespeare, Bill Irwin reciting Beckett, and the talented Jennifer Leigh Warren sing an inspiring “We’ll Be Together Again.”
Zoom in on a discussion with artists
The California African American Art Museum is offering a few online talks and workshops right now, including monthly evening Zooms with some of its artists including Sula Bermúdez-Silverman and multimedia journalist and curator Walter Thompson-Hernández on Thursday April 30. You have to RSVP for Zoom instructions, but expect the whole thing to be more interesting than your increasingly chaotic online work meetings. Stay tuned for another one next month.
Perfect your pottery game
If you’re looking for a quarantine keepsake, you can make your very own bowl, plate, or whatever you like that will live on long after COVID is finally behind us. Still Life Ceramics studio at ROW DTLA is currently selling five pounds of clay it ships to you for $25. You then follow a live or pre-recorded class online with one of the studio’s artists and send it back for firing and glazing for pickup (hopefully!) in June. The studio is also offering other ongoing online classes, including some involving a real-deal pottery wheel that you can for the duration of the three-week class.
Join a book club (with minimal reading)
Each week, the MOCA is pulling a reading or essay from one of its exhibits, linking out to it online and then offering a virtual book club meetup on Sundays (along with other virtual programming other days each week) focused on the work and led by assistant curator and manager of publications Bryan Barcena. A recent essay centered around the very groovy With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 exhibition. And bonus: They give you some questions to ponder prior to tuning in. It’s kind of like school ... except you can be on your couch with scotch.
Create your own Keith Haring
The Broad is offering a YouTube-based family-friendly art workshop inspired by Haring’s ‘80s pop art. Materials are pretty basic (paper, magazine or photos, tape, pencil, and markers or crayons) and the instructor will help you create your masterpiece in mere minutes.
Go inside a Frank Lloyd Wright
The fabled architect designed the bananas 5,000-square-foot Mayan Revival-style Hollyhock House for an oil heiress nearly a century ago. And after a complete restoration a few years back, the hilltop East Hollywood property -- most famous for its seamless indoor-outdoor flow, massive hearth, and hollyhock flower details throughout -- opened to the public for both self-guided visits and docent tours at Barnsdall Art Park. Until those get going again, Hollyhock is now offering virtual tours online, complete with 360-degree views outside and in and info and details about the house, its history and funky features. Why no one is currently quarantining in such a sick spread, we don’t know.
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