On the other hand, Philippe Vergne, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles since 2014, believes that as more galleries transplant here, they create a layer cake of market-driven spaces and younger and artist-run galleries, which benefits artists. “You have Hauser Wirth & Schimmel opening—they represent
,” he says, offering an example, in a phone interview. “A few weeks ago, a gallery called Reserve Ames, who operate from a barn in the back of a house in Koreatown, did an exhibition with Dieter Roth. What’s going to serve Dieter Roth the best (even though he’s dead), is that he can be represented by both of these galleries. He can have major representation, and still appeal to a different generation at a small gallery opening on a Sunday afternoon with cheap beer.”
Like many, Franklin Parrasch, who opened his Boyle Heights gallery with his former assistant Christopher Heijnen, points to the 1960s and ’70s as to why people are attracted to L.A. “I think a lot of it has to do with the history here of art,” he tells me in a meeting at his gallery. “People like Price, Ruscha, and Baldessari—all these people are the foundation of American art. So all these young artists that are relocating here, they’re gravitating towards something that was the germ that started all of this in the first place.”
But Maccarone and Paul Schimmel were both enticed by someone decidedly more contemporary: painter
. Owens and New York dealer Gavin Brown run 356 Mission, the forerunner in the bloom of galleries in the warehouse district of Boyle Heights that now includes, among others, Maccarone and Venus. It’s a place with caché, and a wildly inventive program that feels like an artist is overseeing it.