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LACE: Nonprofit Art in the Heart of Hollywood

By Genie Davis

February 7, 2017

Since its inception in 1978, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, or LACE as the art space is most commonly known, has been a beacon for experimental and innovative artists. Founded by artists, this non-profit gallery is free to the public, and presents a wide range of art including performance art, art installations, and public projects. With a move to the heart of Hollywood Boulevard in 1993, LACE is a cultural mainstay.

According to executive director Sarah Russin, the 3500-square-foot main gallery and 350-square- foot Project Room gallery serve multiple audiences. “International art audiences will come to LACE to see works about social justice issues, and explore contemporary art. Other tourists and Southern California residents will come in to see the exhibitions we present as well. But what we’re really interested in is visitors from the neighborhood.” Russin adds that along with a burgeoning business district, dining, and entertainment attractions  “The area is coalescing with an increase in housing density – we’re within walking distance of hundreds of apartments and homes, and we’re free and open to the public.”

With an accelerating hyper-local viewer base, the gallery’s role as a purveyor of exciting and meaningful contemporary art has never been more important.

Three curators from LACE’s Emerging Curators Program, Virginia Broersma, Nick Brown and Kio Griffith  have put together the current compelling group show, The Ecstacy of Mary Shelley. The installation deals with the dichotomy of pleasure and pain in a seven-artist group show that explores moments of transformation that can cause both experiences. As is true with many LACE exhibitions, the works engage viewers on a serious level, but are also accessible and involving. Presenting mixed media works, sculptures, installations, and video art, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as the show’s inspiration, viewers get a glimpse into both the fearsome and the inspirational.

The Ecstasy of Mary Shelley, Curated by Virginia Broesma, Nick Brown, and Kio Griffith
at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). (Photo by Chris Wormald)

The Ecstasy of Mary Shelley, Curated by Virginia Broesma, Nick Brown, and Kio Griffith
at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). (Photo by Chris Wormald)

The Ecstasy of Mary Shelley, Curated by Virginia Broesma, Nick Brown, and Kio Griffith
at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). (Photo by Chris Wormald)

Other recent exhibitions have focused on public practice, such as After the Aqueduct, exploring Los Angeles’ water source, and Cocina Abierta Collective’s Help Wanted project, which examined the lives of Los Angeles restaurant workers.  Chats About Change is an on-going series about the political and social aspects of art-making and communication.

“We try to have a balance between presenting work that’s challenging and has deep content with visually exciting and appealing exhibitions,” Russin says, explaining that LACE seeks to present work that appeals to both sophisticated, art-centric viewers and the general public.

Along with the art itself, LACE holds events such as exhibition openings, music nights, artist talks, and panel discussions, such as a recent panel about the nature of curating itself.

“Three years ago we started our inaugural curator’s program. We hold one exhibition a year that’s open to anyone in Southern California who presents a proposal for a complete exhibition idea,” Russin explains. “We also have a wonderful internship program working with students from junior colleges, universities, and art schools as well as with recent graduates,” she notes. “Some serve as gallery guides.”

Having accessible guides is an important aspect of LACE exhibits. “The idea is that anyone can come in and engage with someone, and talk about the shows. One of our most important missions is to introduce contemporary art to the public.” Another way in which the gallery provides this introduction is through an ongoing series of online educational videos designed for the general public that supports artists and artistic dialogue, as well as in-person events such as Creative Capital Workshops and the Sustainability Network, and partnerships with ArtworxLA and PEN USA.

Another vital part of the gallery’s mission is to work with and foster artists creating innovative work and socially engaging content. Over the years, LACE has presented over 5000 artists in some 3000 programs and events, including now well-known Los Angeles artists such as Mike Kelley, John Baldessari, and Gronk.

Upcoming programs include presentations at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair February 23 – February 26, the exhibition I can call this progress to halt opening March 8th, and Rhizomatic Arts: Sustainability Network Happy Hour on April 2nd.

With a history this rich and a future this vibrant, LACE is a star in the expanding LA art scene – one that’s perfectly placed along the Walk of Stars right on Hollywood Boulevard.

The gallery is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)
6522 Hollywood Blvd.
(323) 957-1777

Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own

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