1. After James Ellroy and Bret Easton Ellis, who do you think should write a contemporary novel on La La Land?
2. What are your favorite places in Los Angeles? It does not have to be a museum.
3. Artists are moving to Los Angeles from all over; surprisingly, many artists from New York are also relocating to Los Angeles. Why is that? And don’t say weather and space — we already heard that one!
4. Baldessari said he doesn’t need a vacation because he lives in one. Do you agree?
5. What local subculture is emerging lately?
1. Meg Cranston.
2. The couch at my studio. The porch at my house.
3. Weather and cheaper rents. It’s easier to spot movie stars.
Dealer, Freedman Fitzpatrick
1. An unknown teen with a good Twitter getting high on Monroe Drive behind the auditorium.
2. El Salvadoran and Mexican bakeries that make those multi-tiered cakes with cartoon characters; the DJ equipment/speaker district; the backend trails of Griffith Park; El Matador; and Musso & Frank Grill — it was my grandparent’s lunch spot for decades.
3. Best Asian food in the western hemisphere and a hoard of warehouses waiting to be converted into studios.
4. This is the land of mini-vacations and afternoon holidays.
5. 1990s So-Cal revivalist ravers freaking out to 105.9-inspired chopped and screwed mixes.
Artist and founder of Chalet Hollywood
1. I think it takes someone born and raised in Los Angeles to write about Los Angeles. I know a few people who were born here and have stayed, and they are each at their own “slight angle to the universe.”
2. Definitely the Watts Towers, which, when you do the math, is the tallest skyscraper per worker capita (architect, builder and most importantly engineer) in Los Angeles. I also love Target, Best Buy and Fry’s. I think I spend more time there than at my house.
3. I didn’t have a real reason when I moved to Los Angeles, so it’s pretty difficult imagining why other artists would like to come here. There are incredible artists in this city, and so much that a younger artist can learn from them, so maybe this could be a reason. Survival as tactic comes to mind. All the artists moving here should be coming on rafts, so they can “pop their cherry on the boat over.”
4. I’m sure living in Venice it’s like a vacation. For me it is different since I live in Hollywood. Whatever that means to you, it’s that and much more, and much less. I work 24/7, but its either that or 00/0.
5. Here, all subcultures grow like mold in a flooded condo. But I couldn’t tell you the details because then everyone would move here immediately. There is a subculture of motor-driven bicycles (I am not talking about mopeds) that people ride with white tall tees fluttering behind like capes. Ten of them together is a revelation.
Art advisor, Miyoshi Art Projects LLC
1. I don’t know about a contemporary novel, but Doug Aitken would be great at capturing the nuances and moods of life in Los Angeles.
2. My favorite places are Venice for biking around and grabbing a great meal on Abbott Kinney or Rose Avenue; Downtown for its great restaurants like Bestia and boutique specialty food store Urban Radish; Nobu Malibu on Sunday night; concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.
3. Artists are moving to Los Angeles for a better lifestyle. Where else could Mark Grotjahn drive his Phantom Rolls and live in the historic Chandler Estate? Or Doug Aitken build a Zen-haven-studio by the beach? Mark Bradford owns a whole city block! Los Angeles is the land of opportunity and it’s the creative capital of the world — from Hollywood to Silicon Beach.
4. Yes, I would agree with Baldessari. Actually the opposite is also true — we need to go outside of Los Angeles for more stimulation, intensive culture immersion and to get some real-city vibe. However, we need to de-stress from the traffic.
5. Eurasian power couples!
Director, Matthew Marks Gallery
1. I would love to see Rachel Kushner’s take on Los Angeles. I imagine she could get into its head and weave a massive tale that incorporates many of the disparate geographies that make this place so special.
2. I really spend a lot of time in Downtown Los Angeles. I lived in the Toy District in a loft in the 1990s and it felt so far away from everything — kind of sad. It was really desolate down there with barely a coffee place. Now it has food, galleries, bars and feels a lot more connected to Los Angeles as a whole.
3. Dealers and collectors have this fantasy that artists make art for us, but of course nothing could be further from the truth. Artists make work to be in conversation with other artists and the history of art. They are moving here because Los Angeles has one of the largest concentrations of scholars, collecting institutions, art schools and alternative spaces anywhere in the world. And I know you said not to talk about space, but I think the mental space that one gets in Los Angeles is a huge part of it. It feels less relentlessly about the market here, and I think this gives artists and collectors a unique landscape in which to participate. With less pressure to go-go-go, you make better decisions about your work and your collection.
4. Look, I think it can go either way. This is still very much the frontier, and with some effort you can definitely cobble together a life with fewer restrictions and live in a way that is free from the pressure to compete in the material ways we are taught to in New York. On the other hand, Los Angeles is like the ocean; if you underestimate it, there is a good chance it will swallow you whole.
1. I read Jim Gavin’s short story Costello and thought it depicted a middle class life in Los Angeles with an authenticity that I’ve never found in more famous Los Angeles novels.
2. Palisades Park in Santa Monica is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the city, a cliff-side park overlooking the Pacific.
3. I think the reason artists move here from New York and Europe is because it’s a good place for production; you can have a cheaper space, a car, it’s easy to find materials and fabricators. Also marijuana is legal here.
4. His life may be like a vacation but mine certainly isn’t. I work forty hours a week as an artist assistant, run a gallery in my garage, publish a newspaper, help raise two children and occasionally get to work on my own work. I could use a vacation, perhaps in Capri or Venice.
5. I think subcultures no longer have the time to coalesce the way they did before the Internet; they get exploited or exploded before they are fully formed.
Writer, curator and co-founder of the Finley Gallery
1. Dennis Cooper, and he already has, several times over.
2. The lake in Echo Park when the lotuses are blooming; the view from the Griffith Observatory after it rains; the hill behind the Greek Theater on a concert night; the Huntington Library when the magnolias are flowering; the stretch of Virgil Avenue from Santa Monica to Melrose when the pink Tabebuia trees are doing their thing; Lautner’s Chemosphere house in the Hollywood Hills; a few beaches north of Malibu that I can’t disclose; 356 S. Mission St.; the Sikh temple in Los Feliz on Sunday at noon; The Palace Chinese restaurant down the street when there’s free comedy on Thursday nights; the Vista Theater; Overduin & Kite; Kayne Griffin Corcoran; Trails and Sqirl Confitures and Proof and Sycamore Kitchen; Finley Avenue and all the other majestic streets lined on both sides with very tall palm trees.
3. Well, it is the ideal weather and ample physical space — both physical space within the city for personal use and geographical distance from the financial centers of America and Europe — but it’s definitely not just that. It’s also ample mental space. There is breathing room — some might call it emptiness — for thinking and creating here and, hopefully, for thinking in a different or idiosyncratic way. Market forces and career ambition are not such stressful presences as they are in New York or London. Productivity is understood in more fluid and nuanced terms. Private, domestic space is more important here, and that appeals to certain people who want to make their own context for themselves.
4. Yes, sometimes I agree. And — while this is certainly not the case for Baldessari — living a “vacation” lifestyle in Los Angeles actually often requires or results from keeping costs of living down, not having a high-paying, demanding job working for someone else, and this goes hand in hand with not having a lot of extra money for traveling vacations. So, it’s a trade off.
5. I wonder how in touch I am with subcultures. I mean, juicing is really trendy right now around town, the way sour frozen yogurt was a few years ago, but it’s a stretch to call that a subculture.
Dealer, Redling Fine Arts
1. I wish I knew. I lean toward the past in my reading habits. MFK Fisher has a story about the first meal alone with her father and younger sister. They were driving back to East LA from somewhere near Valencia, the trip took almost twenty hours, but they ate pie. I think about that story a lot while in traffic.
2. Anywhere on foot. I know it’s against the cliché, but it’s the best and only way to see LA. I recommend it from Mount Hollywood to Santa Monica Blvd.
4. Yes, completely. August off is still a little baffling to me.
1. I would probably nominate Sofia Coppola; a screenwriter seems more appropriate to write a novel on La La Land!
2. My favorite place is the Getty Research Institute. It’s one of the best art libraries in the world. I’ve been going there for ten years. Among many treasures, they have just acquired the Harald Szeemann archive.
3. Los Angeles is very artist friendly. The decentralization of the city keeps us on a small-town mentality. Somehow, that more laid back atmosphere provides the space and time to concentrate on projects. We can be isolated in the many diverse neighborhoods, yet come together to see an international museum exhibition or listen to an artist talk. The movie industry provides great fabrication resources and materials, and a reminder that we can build anything that comes to our minds, there are no limitations.
4. Last summer, my studio team had a party at the beach and we all went swimming in the ocean after work. That doesn’t happen in many other cosmopolitan cities.
5. Finally, excellent espresso coffee shops are on the rise these days.
1. Ariana Reines.
2. My shop.
3. In New York or Paris people get together at art openings. In Los Angeles, the studio is a social space. I have people over to the shop, or go visit someone while they’re working. And there’s still a weird old-school manufacturing core here, with a lot of esoteric technical knowledge if you’re into that, and I am. It’s a good place to talk shop.
4. Yeah, it’s like a paid vacation.
5. You think I would tell you?
Curator, The Broad
1. If he was still alive, John Kennedy Toole. Los Angeles is supposed to be funny. If you don’t find it funny, watch out, you are about to be destroyed.
2. It doesn’t have to be, but it is: the Norton Simon Museum. Francisco de Zurbarán’s Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose (1633) is my favorite painting in Los Angeles and I have to visit it often. I can write in the garden and they sell wine. I can drink while I write.
3. You can’t sit in your studio and wait for a visit in Los Angeles. You have to be active, you have to enter into the energy and ride it until the momentum stops. I think the community has a great way of picking someone up instantly, getting them involved, and before they realize it, not only are they getting their art made but they find themselves living with good people in a beautiful place with the best produce in America.
4. Definitely — Los Angeles is very conducive to wide languorous thinking that can cause time to rush by. That said, the most serious people I know live in Los Angeles and I am always pleasantly surprised.
5. Los Angeles specializes in making subcultures into culture. Subcultures are packaged so quickly, just blink, and you’ll read about them on Jezebel.
1. Jim Heimann, executive editor of Taschen America. He has published numerous books and essays on Los Angeles, is passionate about the city and has the right mix of humor, wit and cynicism to write an authentic novel. Come on, Jim, make it happen! My second choice would be Dmitri Dimitrov, the maître d’ at Sunset Tower. He’s at the heart of it all.
2. Taylor’s Steakhouse in Koreatown is an old cop hangout and feels like something straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel. Dan Tana’s next to the Troubadour. It is also a dive where drunks and celebrities mix. Sunset Tower — the only place in LA where I feel like an adult.
3. Well, I think weather and space is the reason why everyone moves here! But beyond that, there’s absolutely nothing happening in this town, so artists only have their work to focus on. I think the bigger question is how long will they stay since Los Angeles is a town different from any other international city with an entirely different set of codes.
4. The only way to appreciate a vacation is if you travel enough to come back home to one. So yes, as long as I travel, Los Angeles still feels like a vacation.
5. Angry Hippies.
Writer and curator
1. Los Angeles isn’t really a “writer’s city,” which is probably why I like being a writer here. This is a city of conflicting, interlocking and often tawdry versions of too many people’s paradises; any good book would probably be as clusterfucked as the city. I’m not even sure if I’m interested in a novel “on” Los Angeles, though LA is as good a place as any to set one. Is The Great Gatsby a novel “on” New York? Who should write it? Nobody with a well-maintained IMDB page.
2. Mountaintop trails through dynamited tunnels; shady cafes down jacaranda-lined boulevards crisscrossed with power lines; a particular taco truck on Glendale; the forest of succulents at the Huntington; the LA River along Frogtown; any of a hundred secret gardens carved out of the city. Art spaces: Public Fiction, 356 Mission, and the complex Night Gallery, François Ghebaly, Martha Kirszenbaum/FLAX, Dorothée Perret/Paris, LA, Eric Kim, Hailey Loman and Brian Kennon are building out downtown.
3. LA is a mess. Anyone who can love it like me is welcome. Besides, beneath all the Hollywood-dross hides the fact that this is a working-class city, built by unions and maintained by small-time entrepreneurs, like artists. In New York, one in three jobs is related to the financial industry.
4. I’m pretty sure he’s still a workaholic into his 80s. The frenetic energy of other cities can sometimes feel distracting, unnecessary. Los Angeles is lovely cause it’s easier to ignore.
5. Expatriate New Yorkers.
Haley Rose Cohen
1. Who’s LA? A definitive answer is hard to pinpoint, as we call an area of town South Central (for the avenue of the same name) but we don’t have a definitive city center. A tall order but the ideal novelist would weave vignettes from Mike Davis’s City of Quartz, Joan Didion’s The White Album, Reyner Banham’s visual BBC essay I Love Los Angeles and James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning.
2. Sqirl Confitures for such a relentless display of deliciousness. Mount Washington’s Self-Realization Fellowship for its graciousness and proximity to my home. Ten Over Six for pick-me-ups and gifts of the excellent variety. I also love the Getty but you could have guessed that.
3. Both cities are big and dirty and mean. Both allow for freedom and responsibility in ways only the one can provide. Both cities are very capable of supporting thriving contemporary art scenes, with major museums, galleries and some of the most prominent private collections of contemporary art in the world. In the US, it is these two cities and these two cities only that put contemporary art on an international map. Relocation to Los Angeles from New York is logical not only as an artist but as a human. People move because they have, or believe they have, no other choice. They need work. They need change. They see opportunity.
4. We love to love Baldessari for saying one thing but humorously implying a set of more serious questions for us to consider. I would not disagree that in comparison to NY there are plenty of easy-breezy sunny vacay vibes to go around here, but inherently a vacation cannot exist without the notion of working, right? It would be hard to know the meaning of either word, otherwise. Somebody has to work around here!
5. Burlesque and Boyle Heights, not in that particular order or in relation to each other. Something feels very now and notable with the burlesque I’ve seen in LA of late. Of course, it is no surprise that there are great performers in town so why not descend from the ceiling and do a number wrapping and unwrapping yourself? Try Pour Vous or go big at Jumbo’s Clown Room. More like a gentrification watch but basically everything that is or appears to be happening in and around Boyle Heights is buzzy. (As if you needed more than Guisados?) I recently went to a fantastic panel on Elaine Sturtevant at 356 South Mission Road. More and more artists are getting studios in Frogtown too.
1. Don DeLillo, for starters. And Evgenia Citkowitz.
2. El Tres Inn in Silver Lake, the coffee shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Flake in Venice and that one electric block of Fairfax that runs between Rosewood and Oakwood.
3. Every single possible answer to this question (and actually most questions!) can be found in the songs of Hall and Oates written between 1980 and their 1984 album, Big Bam Boom.
4. I’d pretty much say that’s somewhere between almost right and not quite…
5. Is it just me, or are burlesque dancers everywhere? Really!
Director, The Mistake Room
1. Quentin Tarantino. No question. He’s written a screenplay and made a film about LA (Pulp Fiction), but I’d love to see him take on La La Land a decade later. Not sure if we’re ever going to read a novel by him but I haven’t given up hope yet. I’m a dreamer.
2. I was born in Mexico but raised in LA and have spent most of my life here. So I have grown fond of quite a few incredible places that I try to frequent as much as possible (and keep hidden from my art-world colleagues — until now I guess): El Mercadito in East Los Angeles — as close to a Mexican mercado as you can get here in LA. From piñatas and party favors to clothes to food products, you can get it all there. You can even be serenaded by the mariachi that plays at their restaurant. It’s a magical and nostalgic place that always makes me homesick. Also, artist John Outterbridge’s studio. I met John a few years back and have had the pleasure to be invited to his studio quite a bit. He is such a generous and special person, and the studio echoes decades of LA history. It’s filled with his work and the work of his friends and colleagues. A visit to the studio comes paired with a rich serving of John’s stories and anecdotes, so it’s a win-win every time.
3. Something is happening in LA right now. I think it’s going to take us a few years to really figure out what that something is but there is definitely some great energy brewing in the city. New spaces and young galleries are opening and the Downtown arts district is having its much-belated revival. It reminds me a bit of a few years back when the great migration from Chinatown to Culver City happened. I think you can really feel a sense of excitement about things to come, and that is what is driving many to try to find their place here now.
4. No. Not everyone in LA gets to live in a vacation.
5. Art advisors? Not a subculture per se, but I feel like these days I hear more and more that someone is now advising someone.
Managing Director, Paddle8
1. Jonathan Franzen, of course, who has the rare distinction of having already written an earthquake novel that’s not about Southern California. And then Donna Tartt, whose next book is surely a decade or more away, but whose excoriating Vegas-beyond-the-Strip chapters in The Goldfinch suggest that she would do a brilliant job if let loose in Orange County.
2. The Japanese garden at the Huntington, the top of Griffith Observatory, the swimming pool at the Hotel Bel-Air. Also, Burbank Airport, which is always an unadulterated joy.
3. I think it’s easier to produce great art when you’re living in an environment that challenges you a bit, where’s there’s a little grit. There’s no grit left in New York, at least not anywhere near a Manhattan gallery. But Los Angeles? The Arts District, the gallery neighborhoods — so much is still unsanitized. It’s the real world.
4. Secretly, yes. Our CEO makes this argument to me every time I try to take a holiday, however, so it’s in my interest to disagree.
5. Fat, thank God. Everyone assumes LA is a city of vegans. But we’ve got a place across the street that does six kinds of grilled cheese.
Justin Gilanyi, Heather Harmon
Directors, Champions of Culture Los Angeles
1. Snoop Dogg.
2. Ferndell; Griffith Park hike up to the Observatory (for Karin Higa); Venice Pier when the waves are breaking; Mulholland Drive at night; Pacific Dining Car downtown; the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
3. LA is a place where one can truly live and work — but also afford to do so without much strife.
4. Definitely — only because home is Venice, which is indeed a vacation.
5. Pop culture.
Dealer, Kayne Griffin Corcoran
1. Ed Ruscha has already written a graphic novel.
2. I am a total homebody, but when I do venture out I’ll head down to the Country Mart and pick up a chicken basket, say hello to my sister Jenni at her clothing store, and grab something to drink at my friend Hayden’s Pressed Juicery outpost.
3. Overall, the quality of life is just better here, but there is also a real spirit of freedom in the air. I always think about how our artist James Turrell has described Los Angeles in the late 1960s, that it used to be described as “tasteless, and that is freedom because it has no barriers. It is taste that is actually censorship. LA did not have it, and it was a great place because you could do anything in it. That’s why I liked LA — the revenge of the tasteless.”
5. Going back to the idea of freedom, I think the great thing about LA is that it resists trends.
1. Suri Cruise.
2. My bed; the Warner Brothers Studio Backlot; my car; El Matador State Beach; Whole Foods; the hiking trail in Franklin Canyon Park; the Bigg Chill; the Century City Mall.
3. Everybody who comes to Hollywood has a dream.
4. I hope so — he certainly deserves to live in one!
5. Soul Cycle.