Los Angeles

How to Experience LA's Arts Scene Right Now

There's still plenty to see.

Hollyhock House
Hollyhock House
Hollyhock House

While Pfizer and Moderna are racing for a vaccine, we’re still stuck at home wondering when this will all be over and we can get back to seeing people and going places. If you’re like us, you miss experiencing LA’s rich art scene, seeing performances-hell, we even miss drinking cheap wine from plastic cups at gallery openings. While nothing can compare to art in the Before Times, there’s still plenty to see online and by appointment at galleries. You can check out online exhibitions, watch a performance, or create your own work of art at home with help from local experts. As for the cheap glasses of wine, buy yourself a bottle of two-buck Chuck and pretend you’re in a gallery, you deserve it.

Museum @ Home

Museum lovers may not be able to visit their favorite spaces IRL, but we can visit some of LA’s museums from the comfort of our own homes for free, and pants are optional! Go on an audio tour of the Broad’s collection led by collection artists talking about artworks by other artists also in the collection. Hear from greats like Barbara Kruger on Kara Walker’s African’t, John Baldessari on Sherrie Levine’s Fountain (Buddha), and Sterling Ruby on Christopher Wool’s Untitled, 1990, among many others. On the Getty’s site, you can browse online exhibitions including Michelangelo: Mind of the Master, which shares background, history, and anecdotes about the Renaissance artist, or go on a 360-virtual tour of the museum’s permanent collections via Google Art and Culture. The Autry Museum of the American West has released When I Remember I See Red, an exhibition featuring the work of Native California artists who use their work to address Native identity, history, and activism, online, including more than 60 works by over 40 California Indigenous artists like Rick Bartow, Harry Fonseca, Frank LaPena, Judith Lowry, and James Luna. In June, the Annenberg Space for Photography announced that it will not reopen. However, you can still access their audio tours including CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop, featuring the work of photographers who have played a critical role in bringing hip hop’s visual culture to the global stage.

Band of Vices
Band of Vices
Band of Vices

Make an appointment for a gallery visit

Galleries across the city are beginning to offer visits by appointment only. Head to Band of Vices to see Kangs, a group show featuring work by Andrew Gray, Idris Habib, Tommy Mitchell, and Khari Turner on view through December 12. Explore the young artists’ journeys as they contemplate their own personal history, confronting notions of ideal beauty, what it means to be a Black man in America, all against the backdrop of police brutality, the visibility/invisibility trope, systemic racism, and the canon of art history. On display through December 23, Steve Turner presents Triple Play, a three-person exhibition featuring new abstract works by Paolo Arao, Rhys Coren, and Erin O’Keefe. Bold in color and composition, made of atypical materials and using innovative processes, their works convey joy, play, and experimentation while presenting visual conundrums that are not easily solved.

Zoom in on an artist discussion 

The California African American Art Museum is offering a few online talks, including monthly evening Zooms with artists and experts like authors of Black Future, Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew, on December 10 (RSVP for Zoom instructions). The Skirball is bringing intimate conversations with artists to your home with LA Reflections: Shifting Culture. Creative voices from around the city share how they are shifting their practices and connecting with audiences through the pandemic. 
 

The show must go on…line

Stream Gaze presented by The Fountain Theatre and Tell Me A Story Productions through December 11, Larry Powell’s adaptation of his original dramatic satire The Gaze…No Homo, an exploration of how Black queer artists navigate historically white spaces, into a free 12-part series. Watch The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro, a series of Chicano-themed versions of classic tragedies. Available online for free through January 20 and presented by The Getty and the Center Theatre Group.

The Autry
The Autry
The Autry

Watch a pre-recorded talk

Museums are a great place for discussions. When you can’t gather in person, online is the next best thing. Experience pre-recorded lectures from the city’s top cultural organizations like the Hammer, whose archives include conversations with icons like Jane Fonda and Roxane Gay. Building on their long-running film series, and on their diverse collections related to the West, the Autry presents What Is a Western? an interview series that asks experts to share their knowledge about the many sides to Western storytelling, imagery, and other media.

Chicano Batman
Chicano Batman
Chicano Batman

Enjoy a concert sans the crowds

Catch a performance by LA’s favorite genre-breaking band, Chicano Batman as they perform in a new installment of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Sound/Stage” series of socially distanced concerts filmed at the Hollywood Bowl in August. Stream the album release concert of L.A.-based pianist Thomas Kotcheff’s “Songs of Insurrection” which includes selections from his new recording of composer Frederic Rzewski’s protest-inspired songs from seven countries around the world.

LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art
LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Create art projects courtesy of LA museums that could rival their collections 

LACMA 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. Norton Simon Museum is sharing art projects and coloring sheets inspired by the Museum’s collection.

Still Life Ceramics
Still Life Ceramics
Still Life Ceramics

Get dirty with clay

Still Life Ceramics and POT are both offering in-person classes and taking all necessary precautions. If you would prefer to take your clay to go, Still Life is offering clay kits for $45. Receive all the necessary tools, follow along with their videos, choose glazes, and drop off your pieces to be fired at their DTLA or Santa Monica studios.

Go inside a Frank Lloyd Wright

Perched on a 36-acre hilltop in East Hollywood, the Hollyhock house is Wright’s first and most widely known West Coast design. Created for an oil heiress nearly a century ago, the property defies categorization and has been described as Mayan, Aztec, Asian, Egyptian, and as a “California Romanza” by the architect himself. However you want to define it, it’s gorgeous and you can take a virtual tour of the home and dream that you’re sheltering in place there.Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Keisha Raines is a freelance writer in L.A. who misses museums and drinking wine from plastic cups in galleries.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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