Downtown L.A. | July 01, 2023
LA Art Galleries for a Different Kind of Art Experience
From former train stations to bygone movie theaters, prop houses to cannabis dispensaries – the locations of LA’s art galleries are peppered with historic, atypical, and sometimes scandalous pasts. Immerse yourself in the city’s architectural past and artful present in our local gallery guide.
Bergamot Station Arts Center: From a railroad station to arts
Just five minutes from Santa Monica Proper, Bergamot Station Arts Center brings together nearly 20 of Los Angeles’ most renowned art galleries—including Craig Krull Gallery, William Turner Gallery, Galerie XII, Danziger Gallery, and Rosegallery—with a nearly 30-year history of spotlighting both established and emerging artists across contemporary art, painting, and photography.
How it used to be: From 1875 to 1953, Bergamot Station served as a railroad station for the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad, then later the Santa Monica Airline. When the trolley cars ceased operations in 1953, the site’s warehouse buildings transitioned to house a celery packing operation, then an ice-making plant, and finally a factory for the water heater manufacturing. In 1994, the City of Santa Monica transformed the site into an arts venue, with the opening of an arts complex led by Wayne Blank, developer and co-owner of the Shoshana Wayne Gallery.
Nearby: The Bergamot Café is open Tuesdays to Sundays, or we recommend the nearby Birdie G’s, home of talented chef Jeremy Fox.
2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica
David Zwirner, from prop houses Hollywood Studios to arts
Thirty years ago, German art dealer David Zwirner opened his New York gallery at 43 Greene Street in Soho. Since then, Zwriner has organized more than 300 exhibitions from New York to London to Hong Kong, and gone on to represent a diverse lineup of acclaimed artists including sculptors, painters, photographers, and visual artists and names like Yayoi Kusama, Barbra Kruger, William Eggleston, Paul Klee, Noah Davis, Raymond Pettibon. Last May, he opened his first gallery in Los Angeles at 612 Western Avenue.
How it used to be: The gallery’s first two Los Angeles spaces (located at 612 and 616 N. Western Ave.) were built in the 1930s as prop houses when Hollywood studios were nearby on Melrose Avenue. Later, both spaces were renovated by Selldorf Architects. The third gallery (located at 606 N. Western Ave.), which will be David Zwirner’s flagship building in Los Angeles, will be completed at the end of 2023.
Nearby: Check out neighboring New York gallery Sargent’s Daughters.
612 Western Ave.
Lisson Gallery: a British gallery in a former night club
Founded in London by Nicholas Logsdail and now run by his son Alex Logsdail, Lisson Gallery opened in 1967 in Bell Street, London. In its early days, the gallery showcased the minimal and conceptual art of Carl André and Daniel Buren, and focused on British sculptors such as Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor, and Julian Opie, before becoming a reference for international names like Ai Weiwei and Sean Scully, and emerging artists like Ryan Gander and Pedro Reyes.
How it used to be: Lisson Gallery is located in what used to be “The Zone”, a gay nightclub that closed in 2020. The two-story building, which once boasted two floors of mazes, private booths, and glory holes, spans over 8,000 square feet. Design-architecture firm Ashe Leandro lowered the original ceiling and installed deep skylights to bring natural light into the space.
Nearby: Jeffrey Deitch’s gallery, fashion stores like Just One Eye, Officine Générale, Nili Lotan, Tartine Bakery & café, and restaurants Mr T. and Gigi’s.
1037 N. Sycamore Ave.
Perrotin Los Angeles takes over a derelict cinema
Last February, at the Frieze Art Fair in Los Angeles, Emmanuel Perrotin inaugurated its eleventh global location (following New York, Paris, Seoul, Dubai, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong). The gallery, known for representing some of the biggest names in contemporary art—including JR, Takashi Murakami, Maurizio Cattelan and Claire Tabouret—invited Danish artists Jesper Just and Barry McGee to celebrate the event. Currently undergoing renovations, the LA outpost is due to open in late 2023.
How it used to be: Galerie Perrotin took over the former Del Mar Theatre, a venue open from 1939 until the 1980s, then converted into a post-production studio before being left vacant.
Nearby: The buzzing West Adams neighborhood, including Tartine Bakery, restaurants Vicky’s All Day & Mizlala, and art gallery Band of Vices.
5036-5040 West Pico Blvd.
Roberts Projects, the former car dealership for Hollywood stars
Previously based in Culver City, this 10,000 square feet gallery founded by Bennett and Julie Roberts represents emerging, mid-career, and established artists, with a particular focus on African-American culture across all media, including drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, film, and performance. Among the big names, the gallery features work by Kehinde Wiley, Dominic Chambers, Zhao Zhao, and Alexandre Diop.
How it used to be: This 1948 building was home to the former “Chrysler-Plymouth Auto-Dealer to the Stars” where Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, and Michael Landon once purchased cars. Today, the new art gallery headquarters features a graceful silhouette that “balances clean, minimalist white architecture with a touch of the structure’s industrial past and historic features.”
Nearby: Fahey/Klein Gallery and Beyond the Streets on South La Brea Avenue. Shopping at Mameg, Union, and Golyester Vintage.
442 South La Brea, Hancock Park
David Kordansky Gallery in Jackie Chan’s former studio
For 20 years, David Kordansky has been one of Los Angeles’ most influential art dealers. Originally based in Chinatown, his gallery moved to La Brea Avenue in 2014, bringing with it works by emerging and established international artists. Among its regulars: the talented sculptor Simone Leigh, painters Ruby Neri, Sam Gilliam and Rashid Johnson, and the posthumous work of Tom of Finland.
How it used to be: Impact Stunts—Jackie Chan’s former choreography and martial arts studio—was based there for decades.
Around: LACMA, Petersen Automotive Museum, and The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
5130 West Edgewood Place, Miracle Mile
Nino Mier Gallery in a former cannabis dispensary
Arriving in Los Angeles some 30 years ago, Nino Mier began his career in the restaurant business while collecting art on the side. Today, he heads nine galleries in the U.S. and Brussels, with a selection of artists including Nicola Tyson, Madleine Pfull, André Butzer, Tony Matelli, and emerging artists such as painter and sculptor Kyle Staver.
How it used to be: The first Nino Mier gallery opened in West Hollywood in 2015 in a former cannabis dispensary. Since then, three other Nino Mier galleries have sprung up in the same neighborhood, forming its own village of contemporary art. A fifth art gallery has set up in Glassell Park.
Nearby: North Sycamore Avenue, near the Jeffrey Deitch gallery, and fashion boutiques Just One Eye and Jacques Marie Mage
7277-7313-7327 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood.