Made in L.A. 2020: Bridging Greater Los Angeles through contemporary art

Umar Rashid, The Waters of Flint. Source of All Things, 2018. Acrylic and mica flake on canvas, 7 x 7 in. / Collection of Marlene Picard.

The Hammer Museum and The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens’ “Made in L.A. 2020: a version” will showcase multimedia works of art from 30 contemporary artists at both institutions. As of March 31, the exhibition is scheduled to run from July 19, 2020Jan. 3, 2021. For updates, visit The Huntington and Hammer websites.

Made in L.A. 2020 is the fifth iteration of the biennial art exhibition, which traditionally takes place at the Hammer Museum. This will be the first year that the exhibition will be staged across multiple venues, taking place at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, The Huntington in San Marino and additional select locations that will be announced prior to the exhibition’s opening.

“Made in L.A. 2020: a version” is co-curated by Paris-based curator Myriam Ben Salah, LA-based curator Lauren Mackler and the Hammer Museum’s assistant curator of performance Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi. Through nearly 300 studio visits, exhibition curators selected 30 artists working throughout Greater Los Angeles who delve into the overlooked histories, subcultures and communities of LA.

Cover of Harmony Holiday’s poetry collection Hollywood Forever (Fence Books, 2017) featuring a photograph of Miles Davis and Frances Taylor (cover design by Holiday and the publisher). / Courtesy of the artist.

Each artist featured in Made in L.A. will showcase works and performances in both of the spaces provided by the Hammer Museum and The Huntington, as well as several off-site venues. According to Christina Nielsen, the director of the art museum at The Huntington, the curation of Made in L.A. locations and media platforms will create a cross-town conversation — a key feature of Made in L.A. 2020’s character.

“Los Angeles is often described as being fragmented or difficult to navigate geographically and culturally,” Nielsen said via email. “With every artist represented at both venues, visitors will have two unique experiences that comprise one whole that we think will be much greater than its parts.”

By activating both venues that are geographically situated at the east and west ends of Los Angeles County, the curators sought to stage the exhibition in two parts and at specific locations in between.

“It will activate Huntington spaces in exciting new ways, with the work of 30 contemporary artists installed in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery as well as in a portion of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art,” Nielsen said. “There also will be works bridging the distance — a podcast and a series of billboards.”

Made in L.A. is a part of The Huntington’s Centennial Celebration, which aims to provide people with a range of opportunities to engage with the offered collections. Made in L.A. visitors will be able to explore the connecting themes of all the exhibition’s works.

Nielsen said the exhibition connects multiple themes: entertainment as both a subject and material, the genre of horror and film, and theater’s conceptualization of the fourth wall. The selected creatives — artists, writers, filmmakers and performers — will highlight these ideas in projects spanning several creative mediums.

Beyond Baroque by Sabrina Tarasoff. Gail Kaszynski. Still from Fear of Poetry, 1982, VHS tape to DVD, color, sound, 57:16 min. / Courtesy of the artist © Gail Kaszynski.

Some artists will create new, site-specific works, while others will reanimate archival materials for their installations. According to Sabrina Tarasoff, a South Pasadena-based writer and curator, her research focuses on a group of poets from the late 1970s and early 1980s that was active at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Centre, including Ed Smith, Bob Flanagan, Jack Skelley, Amy Gerstler and David Trinidad. Tarasoff said she wants to present her research in a way that physically brings visitors inside the poems, revitalizing her work as a haunted house installation.

Tarasoff said she was haunted by how the poets fashioned their voices out of material fantasies with feelings of altered consciousness, which led her to the concept for the Beyond Baroque haunted house.

“Amongst other things, what stood out initially was a professed interest in the poem was not so much a conceptual, politically-laden space but as an architectural space, language as a place to get lost in, ideas as things in motion,“ Tarasoff said via email. “I wanted the project to be experiential, immersive: not a spectacle, but like walking into someone else’s dreams.”

Alexandra Noel, Can you bring everything with you?, 2019. Oil and enamel on panel, 8 1/4 x 10 1/4 in. / Courtesy of the artist and Bodega, New York.

Alexandra Noel, a painter based in Montecito Heights, echoed this excitement over visitors engaging with her works in the Made in L.A. venue spaces. Noel’s paintings are characterized by her use of scale and size, appearing zoomed in, cropped, stretched or rescaled like onscreen images. Noel said visitors will be able to view her paintings in a different way when they are presented on a different scale.

“I hope people who visit can zoom in and look at the paintings the same way we look at our phones,” Noel said.

For people looking to attend the exhibition this year, admission to “Made in L.A 2020: a version” at the Hammer Museum will be free, and visitors to the Hammer Museum will receive free admission to The Huntington.