REVIEW: "Shangri La: Imagined Cities" @ LA Islam Arts Initiative, Los Angeles
Despite its rich cultural and ethnic diversity, Los Angeles often fails to reflect the scope of its internationalism in its contemporary art programming. The city’s engagement with art and ideas connected to the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) is especially lacking. This void makes the LA/Islam Arts Initiative a particularly noteworthy happening, which has been presenting a full slate of exhibitions and programming this winter season. Organized by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), the Initiative’s current program is anchored by two exhibitions at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery: “Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art” and its commissioned complement “Shangri La: Imagined Cities,” a group show of eight contemporary artists with predominantly Middle Eastern origins.