ART & DESIGN UPDATE: The Hammer Museum Expands and What To Expect At Desert X

Plus NeueHouse opens in Venice and Coup d’Etat brings its California creatives to L.A.



Room Service
Her social circle included Jean-Michel Frank, Coco Chanel, Salvador Dalí and Alberto Giacometti, yet Frances Elkins got her decorating start at her Monterey adobe home, Casa Amesti, and soon found herself designing for friends in Pebble Beach and San Francisco. One of last century’s most prominent interior designers, alongside Elsie de Wolfe, Elkins, who is credited with helping to hone the look of California design, is the subject of a new volume by Scott Powell, Frances Elkins: Visionary American Designer (Rizzoli New York, $65). Among a trove of images and magazine spreads of rooms Elkins designed, Powell also includes interiors dotted with furniture and fabric collaborations between Elkins and Frank, as well as architects including her brother David Adler. Famed decorator Billy Baldwin called her “the most creative designer we have ever had, and perhaps the greatest,” and here her influential work stands in concert with fellow Northern California innovators Anthony Hail, Michael Taylor and John Dickinson. E.V.


Block Party
After a two-decades-long renovation, the Hammer Museum is opening the doors of its newly transformed building at the corner of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards. Included is a Michael Maltzan–designed street-level cultural center named for philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick, a new lobby, expanded gallery space and an outdoor terrace now home to Sanford Biggers’ 25-foot-tall cast bronze sculpture Oracle. After acquiring an adjoining office tower, the museum now stretches across a full city block, adding 40,000 square feet to its existing footprint and stretching from Westwood Boulevard to Glendon Avenue. Works from the Hammer’s permanent collection, including contemporary pieces by Mark Bradford, Rita McBride, John Baldessari, Lauren Halsey, Eva Hesse, Laura Owens, Paul McCarthy and Roland Reiss, join temporary exhibitions such as a retrospective showcasing op art pioneer Bridget Riley’s drawings and a new woven installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 310-443-7000; hammer.ucla.edu. E.V.


Culture Club
“There has been a dearth of genuinely inspirational, design-forward and functional spaces for creatives in Venice Beach for years,” says Jon Goss, chief brand and marketing officer of CultureWorks and NeueHouse, which opened NeueHouse Venice Beach. “Now that work has become more social and the need for in-person connection is stronger than ever, we want to bring together a community that thrives at the intersections of work and play.” Toronto-based DesignAgency oversaw the transformation of a two-story, century-old building, deftly synthesizing a range of aesthetic references throughout 23,000 square feet to support working, gathering and compelling cultural programming. “We wanted this rich mix of perspectives, provenance, craft and innovation to infuse every space,” says DesignAgency founding partner Anwar Mekhayech. Amenities such as a podcast studio and surfboard storage cater to members’ needs and expand their horizons, while Reunion, a full-service restaurant and bar, offers front-row sunset views from its dazzling rooftop perch. 73 Market St., Venice, 424-430-3500; neuehouse.com. J.R.


Desert X 2023 installation view, Rana Begum, No.1225 Chainlink, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Desert X.

X Marks the Spot
The site-specific international art exhibition, Desert X, returns to the Coachella Valley for its fourth edition (March 4 through May 7), activating majestic desert locations with installations by acclaimed emerging and established artists from around the world. Presenting public exhibitions that connect to the environment and indigenous communities, the months-long event is produced by The Desert Biennial, a charitable nonprofit promoting cultural exchange and education. This year’s exhibition is co-curated by returning artistic director Neville Wakefield and Diana Campbell, the founding artistic director of Samdani Art Foundation in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit. Must-see immersive installations include works by artists Rana Begum, Gerald Clarke, Hylozoic/Desires (Himali Singh Soin and David Soin Tappeser), Torkwase Dyson and Mario García Torres. Visiting the approximately 12 commissioned works is free to the public. desertx.org. D.N.


Lighten Up
Industrial materials, including fiberglass, sheet acrylic and polyester resin, form the backbone of Light and Space art and related works by a group of Southern California artists, who began exploring the way we see light through such mediums in the 1960s and 1970s. Now a new exhibition curated by Carol Eliel, entitled “Light, Space, Surface: Selections from LACMA’s Collection” (April 2 through Oct. 1), examines the way in which the artists, including Pasadena-based Helen Pashgian, sought to create works that reflect and refract light throughout their decades-long practices. “I was always interested in seeing into my sculptures and through them,” Pashgian has said. Also on view are pieces Eliel calls “visually seductive,” created by several perception-exploring artists, such as Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Judy Chicago and Hap Tivey. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323-857-6000; lacma.org. E.V.


Against the Grain
Biomorphic sofas, kaleidoscopic butterfly mirrors, rattan pendants that resemble sea urchins dangling from the ceiling—these are the kind of radical, imaginative pieces that make up the arsenal at the aptly named contemporary design emporium Coup d’Etat (meaning a rebellious upheaval). Nearly 20 years after Darin Geise opened his first outpost in San Francisco, he recently unveiled a second location in Los Angeles. “We are turning up the volume at this new location,” he says. “There is a playfulness and risk-taking design aesthetic in L.A. that we are excited to entertain.” On offer will be pieces from California-based artists including Chuck Moffit, Jocelyn Marsh, Edwin Maldonado, Damian Jones and Linda Fahey, along with curated contemporary art, furniture, lighting and select vintage pieces. Let the uprising begin! 100 N. Robertson Blvd., L.A., 323-825-5880; coupdetatsf.com. K.M.


Feature image: NeueHouse Venice.


This story originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of C Magazine.

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