Los Angeles: Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation

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The Marciano Foundation wasn’t on my list (have to leave some room for serendipity) but there was an Ai Wei Wei exhibit my friend found out about and a red dot room she had photo plans for- so we got our free reservations (YAY LA!) and off we went.

Coming from our airbnb in Little Armenia, just east of Hollywood, we traveled from strip mall grittiness to holy crap where-are-we mega home Wilshire Ave. I didn’t know what to expect having ended up on the doing no research side of the spectrum – sometimes I think going into an experience completely fresh is a great life exercise. It keeps you open to new ideas.

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The Marciano Foundation is located in a huge Masons building- beautifully preserved on the exterior. You would hardly know it had been transformed into a contemporary art gallery. Walking into the entry atrium, you are then led into an enormous industrial like space, completely at odds with the masonry of the exterior. It definitely reminded me of the Tate Modern in London- a complete transformation of a building from its original purpose into a new one.

I loved the small, subtle details that the restoration left behind- the mark of the stairs along the wall of the main gallery, the balcony overlooking the main gallery (both of these leaving behind hints of the original purpose of the space), the craftsman tile water fountain and the masons icon on the elevator doors.

And interestingly, and not to subtle, was the small exhibit room displaying artifacts found during the restoration about the Free Masons. Its rare to see anything from this secret society- it was a glimpse into their culture (theatrical in this particular case).

I have to knock the floor plan for an odd inbetween space. Its a bit of a sandwich where the bread is the star, and less what’s stuck in the middle with the odd gallery space between the main exhibition areas.

The top gallery is open and pretty straightforward for an art gallery, filled with contemporary art even more on the fringe than that shown at The Broad. There’s a nice outdoor balcony- nice to take a breather from the intensity of the art inside and just sit to enjoy the tree line, an unusual experience for central LA.

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The art called for strong responses, daring you to interact- and yet, it was untouchable. Our current day and age is defined by technology which has ushered in ephemerality as the main state, but contemporary art seems out of touch with this. What is precious today? What do we intend to preserve to represent our culture today? I think the main gallery both here and at the Tate reflect this the best. We are defined by experiences more than ever and they are fleeting. Architecture remains in the end, the longest standing and best preserved reflection of society- the Marciano Foundation has honored this juxtaposition and should be commended as such.

Website: Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation

Address: 4357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010

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