LAXART, a key Los Angeles alternative art space, will inaugurate a permanent headquarters this fall. Its new home in L.A.’s Melrose Hills will more than double its current exhibition space while building on the organization’s “legacy of artist-centered programming and leadership.” LAXART’s current space will close at the end of this June.
“The uncertain, early days of the pandemic instigated some institutional soul searching, forcing us to identify and squarely confront deeper, more systemic challenges,” Hamza Walker, director of LAXART, said in a statement. “The most fundamental of these was to secure a permanent home. For most mid-scale, non-profit arts organizations, this isn’t so much a challenge as it is a dream. We successfully met a major challenge head on, and in doing so, we achieved a dream.”
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Founded in 2005, LAXART opened with a mission dedicated to providing emerging and lesser-known artists with a platform to show. Among the shows staged was a historical survey of Latin American art, the first solo exhibition of Zarouhie Abdalian, and an updated version of the 1987 exhibition “Constitution” originally put on by the art collective Group Material.
LAXART’s new home is a one-story brick and concrete building on Western Boulevard with about 5,000 square feet of exhibition space. A former parking lot and loading area adjacent to the building will be reimagined into a multipurpose outdoor gathering space, where LAXART plans to host installations, networking events, and public forums.
According to the nonprofit, about half of its goal of $5 million for the building campaign had already been raised. The renovation will be spearheaded by John Frane, an LAXART board member and Design Principal of HGA Architects, in collaboration with LAXART’s staff and board. The organization has described the initial designs as “reductive and raw.”
“This is more than just a new building. It is a blank canvas that will allow us to give artists the freedom to experiment with new formats and develop innovative public programs,” artist Glenn Ligon, a board member at LAXART, said in a statement.
In 2018, LAXART opened a newly refurbished Hollywood location with a fresh focus on public engagement and performance, and an exhibition program dedicated to multidisciplinary art. The physical space was reimagined from series of small galleries to a single central gallery, and a text-based work by Barbra Kruger decorated the facade.
“Since its inception, LAXART has been a place for artists—to experiment, to play, to be challenged, and to rise to the most pressing issues of our times,” Margaret Morgan, Chair of LAXART’s board of directors, said in a statement.