William Poundstone
William Poundstone on Art and Chaos

William Poundstone’s Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

The Biggest Little Museum in L.A.

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Here’s one sign of the times: The artist line-up for the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A. 2014″ includes two museums and one radio station. KCHUNG is the real deal, 1630 on your AM dial. The museums need qualification: They’re the Los Angeles Museum of Art (not your mother’s LACMA, in Eagle Rock) and the Public Fiction collective (in Highland Park, one avatar being the Museum of Public Fiction). The Hammer biennial’s embrace of what curator Michael Ned Holte is calling “micro-institutions” acknowledges a subterranean current of L.A. art. Call it institutional critiques masquerading as actual institutions. (Above is the Los Angeles Museum of Art, in its entirety, showing Stephanie Taylor’s 2013 installation Three Samoan Proverbs.)

The Museum of Jurassic Technology must be the nexus of this meme. David and Diana Wilson don’t break the fourth wall and out MJT as fiction or art. LAMOA and Public Fiction are in a sense more earnest. In plain artspeak, they’re alternative spaces.

The Los Angeles Museum of Art is run by German-born, Cal Arts-trained Alice Könitz out of her industrial-park studio in Eagle Rock. It’s the Twitter of museums. Artists are constrained to work in a rectilinear framework measuring 13 feet wide at largest dimension. The given architecture evokes bungalow, gazebo, tea room, car port, containerized storage unit, and A-Z living unit. The corrugated roof is early Frank Gehry, while the exhibition program subverts the Bilbao dictum that mega-spaces inspire mega-art.

Maybe that dictum is a guy thing. Since its 2012 opening, LAMOA has shown five artists, four of them female. The three one-woman-show-a-year average compares favorably to some of the larger institutions.

When a show is up, LAMOA is open Sundays, 1 to 5, at 4328 Eagle Rock Blvd. A Violet Hopkins installation opens Feb. 23, with opening day hours of 3 to 6. The Hammer’s “Made in L.A.” opens June 15.

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