Art Merges With Nature in Los Angeles This Summer. Here’s a Guide to Four Cultural Excursions, From the Canyons to the Beach
Make a day of it with these suggested tours in the West Coast art capital, with pauses for refreshment along the way.
Angelenos, ready to get your steps in? After sharing our New York summer art guide last week, we’ve prepared another practical guide for viewing summer art exhibitions, this time in Los Angeles. We’ve compiled daily itineraries to help you navigate four art destinations around town—including the Broad, Getty Villa, and LACMA—complete with stops for refreshment before and after, because you will need your strength.
The Broad Museum
Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room
Yayoi Kusama first produced her Infinity Mirror Rooms in the 1960s, inviting viewers to step into kaleidoscopic illusions of infinite space. In recent years, variations of the mirrored rooms have been exhibited internationally, gaining new meaning—and Instagram cachet—for contemporary audiences keen on immersive spaces. The room currently installed at the Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles (221 South Grand Avenue), The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, features dazzling lights that place the visitor in a twinkling cosmos. But beware, this is a highly popular exhibition; the maximum time to enjoy it is 45 seconds.
Kusama’s installation is the latest in a long history of Japanese cultural contributions to Los Angeles. A 15-minute stroll southeast from the Broad will lead you to Little Tokyo, a historic district that has been the heart of the city’s Japanese-American community since the 1880s. Today, the neighborhood is a bustling outdoor mall, featuring niche boutiques and fun Japanese-style photo-booths. A local favorite, the restaurant Daikokuya Ramen (327 1st Street) is the ideal spot to recharge from a day of museum-going and window-shopping. Sit at the counter and dine on their signature dish, Daikoku pork ramen.
If experiencing Kusama’s mirrored universe has triggered a desire for panoramic views, head over to 71Above (633 W. 5th Street), a bar and restaurant located—you guessed it—71 floors above the heart of downtown. Soaring almost 1,000 feet, 71Above is the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi. Craft cocktails are a must at the restaurant’s SkyLounge; we suggest the Flower District, made of gin, apple brandy, and chamomile.
Getty Villa Museum
Located in the scenic foothills of the Pacific Palisades neighborhood, the Getty Villa (17985 E. Pacific Coast Highway) is often overlooked in favor of its sister campus, the Getty Center. Both structures are part of the J. Paul Getty Museum, with the villa inspired by ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The villa’s design was informed by several ancient sites, particularly the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, renowned for its library of papyrus scrolls before its destruction by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, like neighboring Pompeii. Don’t miss Statue of a Victorious Youth (ca. 300–100 B.C.E.), a bronze sculpture of a young male athlete lauded for its realism, or the villa’s extensive jewelry and coin collections.
You can follow in the Greek tradition of contemplating nature and take a hike in nearby Topanga State Park. Topanga Lookout is a quick, accessible hike for various ability levels with great views. After the hike, take a short drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu, which offers both quiet beaches and some of the best seafood around. We recommend tacos at Malibu Farm (23000 E. Pacific Coast Highway), located right on the pier, where the food is farm-to-table and you can’t beat the coastal setting.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
At LACMA (5905 Wilshire Boulevard), two public sculptures bring new perspectives to elemental stone and sun: Michael Heizer’s famous Levitated Mass and Chris Burden’s Urban Light. Heizer conceived of Levitated Mass in 1969 when he saw a similar rock formation in the Sierra Nevada mountains. He spent the next 40 years searching for an identical rock, finally settling on a 340-ton megalithic boulder that is now suspended above a pathway on LACMA grounds. Burden’s Urban Light is a sculpture made of 202 historic street lamps originally installed around Southern California in the 1920s and ‘30s. Both sculptures are outdoors and freely accessible.
Should Urban Light inspire you to learn more about Los Angeles history, head north to the Original Farmer’s Market on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. Founded in 1934, the covered market—every bit as charming as when it opened—is a great place to grab a quick bite or souvenir. Nosh a slice of pie at Du-Par’s diner like a real Angeleno, then head up to La Brea, where the store American Rag Cie offers some of the best hand-selected vintage fashion. You can also find antique eyeglasses at the boutique Optical Sphere. For dinner, you can’t do better than Son of a Gun (8370 W. 3rd Street), a hip seafood joint serving oysters, lobster, and their famous shrimp toast.
Urban Art Walks
While Los Angeles isn’t exactly known as a walking city, there are several arts walks that cater to pedestrians. The city’s bustling Downtown Arts District is easily navigable by foot. Hauser & Wirth (901 E. 3rd Street) is a good starting point for exploring the area. The gallery’s large campus also includes a restaurant, Manuela, where you can grab a drink or meal as you take in artworks by Paul McCarthy, Mark Bradford, and Raymond Pettibon. While in downtown, don’t miss a visit to the Good Liver, a minimalist store stocking carefully selected international wares.
The Culver City Arts District is home to a range of contemporary galleries including Blum & Poe and Anat Egbi, where the exhibition “Variations on a Theme” examines the practices of intergenerational artists such as Gloria Klein, Jesse Krimes, and Suchitra Mattai. While in Culver City, artists won’t want to miss Hiromi Paper, a draftsman’s dream store selling a variety of Japanese-made paper. And on the last Sunday of each month, the historic African-American neighborhood of Leimert Park hosts a public celebration of art, music, cinema, and history with a variety of exhibitions, live music, and local shopping.
Check back for Artnet Summer Itineraries for Chicago and Washington, D.C. coming this month, and visit the New York itinerary here.
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