A curator self-published an art magazine for seven years before founding a venue and a library. Another includes sunsets in its gallery program via communal hikes to Griffith Park from Thai Town. And a third curates by the cycle of the moon. Guardians of new art venues across Los Angeles are changing shape as their pandemic-born businesses reach people yearning for community.


Ja’Tovia Gary’s An Ecstatic Experience, 2015 (courtesy LA Filmforum)

2220 Arts & Archives

Few theater programs in the United States come close to the relentless elegance that 2220 Arts & Archives brings to the world every week. And the avant-garde feels warm here. Follow the sound of a wailing horn through the old Bootleg Theater building and you might find percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani playing a drumhead with his mouth. An afternoon block of shorts could be followed by a conversation with Darol Olu Kae, who enters into conversation with the writer and curator of the California African American Museum, Taylor Renee Alridge, whom he has just locked on a docufiction piece about beloved jazz pianist and composer Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra ensemble. The two share a hometown of Watts in South Los Angeles, and the filmmaker discovered that they both attend Jefferson High School. It was a real September week; soon after, Kae was named one of Filmmaker’s magazineThe 25 new faces of cinema.

Poetic Research Bureau, Acropolis Cinema, Black Editions and other leading groups and archives find a base at 2220. Because these programmers are part of their mission to uplift curators and emerging artists, 2220 offers many direct lines at the heart of collective reinvention around this moment.

2220 Arts & Archives (2220arts.org)
2220 Beverly Boulevard, Historic Filipino District, Los Angeles

Amy Chiao in Open for bone business at the Elysian’s, 2022 (photo by Lyndsay Knecht)

The Elysee

When this independent comedy theater put out an open call for new shows in May, 400 pitches came up. From this journey were born 10 nights of billed debuts for the first Forget About Spaghetti festival. “See what sticks” is the mantra for the audience and the artist. That spirit of playfulness is what Elysian Theater Executive Director and Production Artistic Director Kate Banford tries to bring out in every performer that passes through the venue. And it works. Artist Amy Chiao and her collaborators used installation design and poetry in a parody of influencer pyramid schemes in Open for bone business. As Bone Business Lady, Chiao boils chicken bones to the last prank as material and capital and asks viewers to help with the ritual cleaning of the fried bird: all on a poignant bed of paper. crumbling aluminum for an end we dare not ruin.

The series of VIP (Very In Progress) programming, Open Stage sessions, and clown workshops offered by the theater are all part of an investment in the bizarre process rather than the endgame. Banford seems both proud and amused that Elysian is becoming more visible as an incubator for performance art.

“Comedy is an art. It doesn’t have to be pretentious to be meaningful,” she says.

The Elysian (elysiantheater.com)
1944 Riverside Drive, Frogtown, Los Angeles

Nailah Hunter at Storrier Stearns for Floating (photo by Glen Han)


Some of LA’s best-kept art secrets were in plain sight before 2020, like Some Clouds, which installed small-scale art installations on the banks of the LA River. A traveling sound project called Floating is leading a meditative renaissance in the greater Los Angeles area with music and sound art events. Floating brings people together in front of sweeping vistas: the Malibu Mountains, tree-lined spots like Debs Park, and lush gardens across the city have hosted sessions. Sound baths based on donations from various artists are often adapted for dogs. Paid events feature virtuoso ambient composers like Laraaji. Co-founder Noah Klein defines these dates as “meetings with artists”. In the coming weeks, Floating will host Drum & Lace, Modern Biology, Odeya Nini, WATA and Christopher Royal King from This Will Destroy You. Sites like Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden and the Philosophical Research Society are featured as collaborators in these short-lived performances. Memberships are available for regulars; text communications facilitate direct connection.

Floating (feelslikefloating.com)
Locations vary, text 310-421-0869

Heavy Manners basement (photo by Kelsey Hart)

Heavy manners library

Prolific writer Matthew James-Wilson’s devotion to archiving and sharing independent publications lives on in the physical at the Heavy Manners Library. It’s pure bliss for research-oriented art punks. Members can borrow books and zines for six weeks at a time. Anyone can use the scanner. Bands play here. Poets read here. Most furniture is mounted on wheels to keep performance scenarios flexible. An exhibition wall leads visitors to the basement staircase. Beneath the library, people could gather for a screening hosted by Echo Park Film Center Collective, which inhabited the adjoining space.

For seven years, James-Wilson, also a musician and photographer, self-published a 300-page art quarterly titled TO FORGE. DIY workshops in a performance space can empower people, says the founder, because visitors find themselves on the same level as the artists performing there. Expect more education-focused programming this winter at Heavy Manners thanks to a recently donated risograph printer. Discover more than 30 new paintings by New York artist Paul Windle, whose exhibition is aptly named The basement of paradise and refers to the possibilities of Heavy Manners himself, until November 20.

Heavy Manners Library (heavymannerslibrary.com)
1200 N Alvarado Street, Echo Park, Los Angeles
Friday to Saturday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.

by Linda Chen Yours sincerely at Junior High Los Angeles (photo by Rachel Lewis)
Exterior of Junior High Los Angeles (photo by Rachel Lewis)

Los Angeles High School

Want to get tattooed with your best friend? How about a workout in a place that feels safe? Repair tools? Junior High offers all of this – and an in-house magazine – while focusing on the health of female, queer, and non-binary artists of color. The visual art on display in the organization’s year-old Glendale space often reflects this party planet and makes it bigger: Hadley Rosenbaum wrestles with the brilliance of Greek vistas in the eerie frames of Quite weird, a an ode in photographs to the eccentric deviations between the exhausting societal rules of beauty. This show is until November 8th. Next, a joint exhibit with Nova Community Arts Center, a new neighbor that offers workshops popular with Junior High volunteers, will feature artists connected to both venues at Femme Night.

Junior High Los Angeles (juniorhighlosangeles.com)
603 S Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA 91204

by Andy Harman leave it there at Lauren Powell Projects (photo by Hyperallergic/Lyndsay Knecht)

Lauren Powell Projects

Often edgy, weird, and clever, the artwork featured at Lauren Powell Projects makes friendly neighbors with nearby Jumbo’s Clown Room and its laughable performance art moments. Powell is overflowing with talk about an embargoed dance collaboration she plans to host at the gallery this summer; it’s a common key for the curator, who has become known as a relentless champion of the artists she presents.

The gallery’s current exhibition — Powell’s seventh to be curated by Lauren Powell Projects since it opened in 2021 — is a first for set designer Andy Harman. And it’s the first white-walled installation in the space: A cheeky staging from Harman’s Brooklyn studio even offers the same square footage for oversized scrunchie sculptures to hang out near intentional holes in the wall. “I like to say yes to things people say no to,” laughs Powell.

the harman show, leave it there, is until November 25. You can find Powell leading hikes in Griffith Park on many Monday evenings; check the gallery’s Instagram to be sure.

Lauren Powell Projects (laurenpowellprojects.com)
5225 Hollywood Boulevard, Thai Town, Los Angeles
Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment

Vardui Sharapkhanyan, a Los Angeles curator and writer who helps run No Moon LA, alongside artist and 2022 Pulitzer Prize finalist Courtney Coles, center, and gallery founder Peter Tomka (courtesy No Moon LA )

No moon LA

Solo exhibitions change with the new moon at No Moon LA, an artist gallery founded by Peter Tomka in 2021. Los Angeles-based photographers find mystical energy in their repertoires for No Moon races: Malerie Marder suspended from huge ceiling prints, back to back in a single floating panel, for the recent feminine flash opus of magical realism called SNAFU (Normal situation, all screwed up). Pierre Holzhauer fixated on the explosive periphery of his subjects and the city for his spectacle Untitled, LA, and attracted visitors eager to do the same; this is the effect of these shows, which feel very on the edge of the abyss. And this is due to ritual and instinct. The artists’ sun, moon and rising signs are displayed on the gallery door of No Moon LA along with a statement interpreting the exhibit by astrologer Marty Windhaul. Guided tours led by artists and special guests mark each closure.

No Moon LA (nomoonla.info)
3137 Glendale Boulevard, Atwater Village, Los Angeles
Thursday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.