Talking L.A. with OHWOW Gallery Founder Al Moran

Who better to muse on the art scene of Los Angeles than Al Moran, who opened his OHWOW gallery on an iconic block of West Hollywood—the third installment after Miami and New York City. Moran brought us up to speed on the news at his gallery, his favorite spot for a sunset cocktail, and his go-to outdoors nestled in the hills. We know who we’re calling next time we’re in town.

Artsy: A perfect day in Los Angeles means:

Al Moran: Every day in L.A. feels like it has the potential to be "the perfect day" because of the weather. I know this sounds cliché but it's the truth.

Artsy: What’s exciting in the Los Angeles art world right now?

AM: The support for the L.A. art scene is coming from around the world and that's something that I find exciting. When I was first flirting with the idea of opening a space in L.A. I had heard that support came mainly from the local community. Now, three years later, we're getting people from all over the world coming to the exhibitions and supporting our program. We're actually generating much broader interest than I had imagined. There's a global focus on what's happening here now and I think that's a testament to the city as a whole.

Artsy: OHWOW opened on the West Coast in 2011. How does being in L.A. compare to your gallery spaces back East?

AM: It's always tricky when comparing different cities. There's always pros and cons to all of them. Although I still feel that New York is the center of the art universe, what I have seen evolve over the last few years is that American artists now feel like they have to have an "L.A. show"— just as they have to have a "New York show" or a "London show". This gives me confidence that what we're doing in Los Angeles is being taken as seriously as what's happening in New York or in Europe. Los Angeles is in the conversation right now when talking about art capitals in the world and that's exciting for us.

Artsy: What’s up next for OHWOW?

AM: This week we break down our hugely successful Nick van Woert exhibition. It was Nick's West Coast debut and I feel privileged to have been able to introduce his work to Los Angeles. Next, we begin work on hanging David Benjamin Sherry's “Wonderful Land” exhibition that opens April 18th. I'm thoroughly convinced that David is the greatest photographer of his generation. The work he has made for “Wonderful Land” will further cement his unique aesthetic. He's really hitting his stride now and the work is the strongest he's made to date.

Artsy: Where do you enjoy a sunset drink?

AM: I tend to stay in the neighborhood and ultimately wind up at Chateau Marmont for most meetings outside of the gallery. It's my go-to spot still.

Artsy: What is the one L.A. spot you always bring an out of town guest?

AM: There's a small, outdoor restaurant called Trails in Griffith Park that's on my hit list for visitors. Outdoor dining, healthy food, nestled in the hills. It's a "perfect day" in Los Angeles.

Artsy: Can you choose 4-5 works on Artsy that you feel epitomize Los Angeles/California, and explain why? (See following post for his full list)

AM: Living in Los Angeles I am constantly being affected by the outdoors. I think Robert Irwin was the best at using nature and framing nature within his practice in a tangible way. His installation at the Getty is a great example of this. 1º 2 º 3 º 4º, 1997 is another wonderful example. When I think of Irwin I always think about his light installations within gallery or museums walls, but his strengths ultimately reside in his ability to play with light and space in physical environments. That's his genius in my eyes.

Al Moran is the co-founder of OHWOW, a gallery and publishing house that provides a platform for contemporary art and features both emerging and established artists’ work.

Image courtesy of the artist and OHWOW