Look West is a new-ish event series from the New York Times focusing on arts, media, and technology in the Western U.S. On April 1, Look West hosted a panel discussion in Orange County entitled Art & Collecting Now in Southern California.
The panel included Dr. Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum; Todd D. Smith, Director and CEO of the Orange County Museum of Art; Paul Schimmel, Partner in Hauser Wirth & Schimmel; and artist Samara Golden. Robin Pogrebin of the NY Times was the moderator. The discussion was fascinating as each panelist considered the state of the arts in the Los Angeles region.
Todd Smith joined the Orange County Museum of Art last summer and has already identified projects to engage more diverse audiences. OCMA’s former California Biennial became the California-Pacific Triennial in 2013 and will continue next year with a broader focus on artists from the entire Pacific Rim. Smith is bringing an exhibition this summer which he hopes will appeal to Chinese-Americans and Millennials, which are significant demographics in Orange County. We saw the exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art – My Generation: Young Chinese Artists – and are excited to see it on the schedule for OCMA.
Dr. Potts described that as museums expand online content and audiences, there is more engagement in the real world with increased museum visitation. The Getty Center had 1.9 million visitors last year and has occasionally reached capacity during the current Turner exhibition.
Potts also discussed museum collections – the Getty made headlines with the $65 million acquisition of a Manet painting last fall. Potts overviewed the process of deaccessions and advised that the Getty only acquires one or two paintings each year. The bar for acquisitions is set very high to maintain the quality and focus of the permanent collection.
Regarding collections, Paul Schimmel described that LA has a history of individuals (and eponymous museums) – J. Paul Getty, Armand Hammer, Norton Simon, Eli Broad – who build collections differently from those on the East Coast. Eli Broad, and the founders of OCMA and MOCA, in particular, have acquired important early works by contemporary artists.
Schimmel also described the forthcoming Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, which will expand downtown LA’s Arts District development. The 100,000 square-foot gallery complex will include a restaurant, bar, and courtyard between 2nd and 3rd streets (foot traffic in LA‽) for up to 30 percent public space. The galleries will be large enough for three simultaneous exhibitions, with additional space for public programs and large works outdoors. Schimmel hopes it will become the most-visited gallery in LA, and we already can’t wait for it to open.
Look West: Art & Collecting Now in Southern California was hosted by Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Bank of the West is the presenting sponsor of the series, which is organized and moderated by The New York Times. For future events, see http://nytlookwest.com/.