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Curator Lauri Firstenberg knows that the most efficient means to introduce Los Angelenos to contemporary art is via their natural habitat: the mall and the road.
Under sponsorship by Firstenberg's nonprofit exhibition space, LAXART, New Yorkers Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker made their Los Angeles debut by erecting a Pop Art billboard above La Cienega Boulevard. Later this year, shoppers at the Hollywood & Highland Center will find themselves in a light and sound installation by Walead Beshty, a London-born local.
"There are so many projects I do in L.A. that I can never do in New York," said Firstenberg, 36, who previously was a curator at New York's Artists Space and Los Angeles' MAK Center for Art and Architecture. "We're making new work and new art for a new audience."
Firstenberg is also guest curator of the "California Biennial," a five-month show kicking off in October with 55 artists' works to be shown everywhere from Tijuana, Mexico, and the Orange County Museum of Art to Joshua Tree National Park and San Francisco.
"It's a young city, and I think culture — particularly the art world — is expanding," Firstenberg says of Los Angeles. "There is a new kind of energy."
LAXART; 2640 South La Cienega; 310.559.0166
These days, it's commonplace to find a boutique that accessorizes a frock with a painting. Though Ooga Booga owner Wendy Yao, who graduated from Stanford University, was one of the first to sell fashion and art when she opened her doors in 2004, it's still a struggle to pay the rent. That's why she traveled to art fairs to hawk a record-and-book set by Welsh-born Cerith Wyn Evans along with Assume Vivid Astro Focus' dizzying print of a chicken glammed out à la Ziggy Stardust.