Best Art Events in Downtown Los Angeles in 2015

It's been an impactful year for art and culture around Downtown Los Angeles. New galleries opened as others were pushed out, stellar performances played in bona fide theaters and DIY spaces, and an a international attention-grabbing museum opened on Grand Ave. Get Down Town's co-founders, Phoebe Unter, Ian Gabriel, and Ari Simon share their respective highlights of Downtown art and culture for 2015:


Happy Birthday Moondog @ DWP Building. Atop bunker hill outside the John Ferraro building, A. Dola Baroni led the LA Dance Family in an intimate sunset performance celebrating the birthday of legendary composer Moondog, set to his seminal album. The sweeping water pools surrounding the building reflected both the Downtown skyline and Baroni’s clever choreography.

Art Talk: Claudia Rankine @ MOCA Geffen. With William Pope.L’s giant solo show Trinket as her backdrop, Claudia Rankine read poems from her latest book Citizen and captivated a standing room only crowd with merciless and poignant speech about police brutality and whiteness and blackness in American media and daily life.

ERECTION @ MAMA Gallery. The now notorious Arts District gallery's inaugural group show began the year with works playfully related to the space itself. Many installations decayed over the show’s run, made of live and dynamic materials including flowers, balloons, grass and palm fronds. 

 Erection at MAMA Gallery (image via White Wall Mag)

Erection at MAMA Gallery (image via White Wall Mag)


• IAN •

Khalil Joseph: Double Conscience @ MOCA Grand. The ethereal and sometimes surreal dual-screen short film set to songs from Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.d. city simultaneously captured the brutality and beauty of modern-day Compton, unexpectedly bringing LA hip hop to MOCA. 

Sleepless: The Music Center After Hours @ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Two free showcases kept the the lavish opera hall--usually used for expensive ticketed performances--open until 3 a.m. with DJ sets, live performances and experiential light installations. Wandering through mirrored hallways and chadeliered vestibules while the sounds of EDM and classical percussion wafted and waned raised questions of the possibilities of repurposing performance spaces. Catch the next installment February 5, 2016.

Wild Life: In Residence / Gentrificide @ These Days. Local legend Wild Life took up residence at Jodi & Steven Ziegler's Historic Core bookstore and gallery this summer, bringing his street art installations and sculptures indoors. The works touched upon Downtown folklore and the neighborhood’s steady gentrification, some made of stuffed animals from Downtown’s Toy District, where the elusive Wild Life is said to reside. His Our Lady of Gentrification sculpture was famously destroyed by an arsonist when he later installed it on the street. See Wild Life’s work around the Historic Core and Skid Row, where he often works in collaboration with fellow provocateur and street artist S.C. Mero.

 Wild Life in his studio preparing for his show at These Days (image via Cartwheel Art)

Wild Life in his studio preparing for his show at These Days (image via Cartwheel Art)


• ARI •

Pop Up Magazine @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel. This live culmination of stories, performances, and talks acted as an on-stage version of California Sunday Magazine. From cinematic shadow puppet storytelling via old classroom projectors to a mind-boggling backstory behind the Bradbury Building, the one night only lineup acted as a great reminder that things are often best experienced IRL. 

Camille A. Brown: BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play @ REDCAT. Beautiful choreography taken from centuries worth of African American dance and movement were woven into themes of childhood, sisterhood, and coming into one's own skin by Brown's stellar company of dancers and accompanying musicians. But the performance was taken to the next level through a deeply meaningful and profound open conversation with the audience on race, privilege, womanhood, and growing up in urban America.  

Manuel Scano Larrazàbal: Inexorable Acephalous Magnificence or How the Shit Hits the Fan @ MaRS (Museum as Retail Space) Gallery. This show had me transfixed like few others did. Everyday household objects like box fans, markers, and string sprung to life across the gallery, creating massive canvas-sized works made by simple machine but precisely envisioned by the Italian artist-in-residence. As the weeks went by, the works unfolded further, and the more I couldn't help but step inside and stare into the movement.

 Fanna Fraser and Beatrice Capote in Black Girl: Linguistic Play, photo by Christopher Duggan

Fanna Fraser and Beatrice Capote in Black Girl: Linguistic Play, photo by Christopher Duggan