One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend is pairing outdoor enjoyment with art appreciation. I first stumbled upon the Underground Museum last summer while looking for interesting ways to beat the Los Angeles heat.
Photo by Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times
Located in an nondescript storefront on Washington blvd in the Arlington heights / West Adams neighborhood, you could easily drive by and miss it. The entrance is through the gift shop (insert Banksy joke here), which is a tasteful assortment of curated art books, t-shirts, home decor setting the tone for what's to come. Entrance is free, made possible through a partnership with MOCA, that has also loaned most of the collection on display in the exhibit.
Lita Albuquerque - Sirius ( Salt, Fiberglass, Pigment) When we visited, the work was under renovation because a child had put his handprints all over the piece. The salt was removed and it was being cleaned.
The Underground Museum is a breath of fresh air. Walk in and exhale the stresses of the surrounding city. Art museums can be intimidating, sterile places. Not here. What so many places get wrong, especially in LA, they get right. The staff are warm, everyone is all smiles and seeming like they are genuinely want to be there - no too cool for school attitudes here. It was a really hot day when we were there, and they offered us water to drink as the juice bar had already closed for the day.
Ellsworth Kelly - Spectrum
Photo of Noah Davis attending a film event at the Underground Museum by Alberto E. Rodriguez / WireImage
"Ultimately, I want to change the way people view art, the way people buy art, they way they make art. I've always tried to balance the tight rope of making my art accessible to those who are aware of the craft, and those who aren't convinced of art, or more specifically, my artistic objective. I believe the concealing too much in theory is problematic and that art can function in every-day life. I strive for an artistic legacy that not only transcends blackness but confluences and impacts all cultures " -Noah Davis
Reflecting on Noah Davis' painting in Artists of Color
How I make art more interactive for Dries. He takes pictures of things he finds interesting with his camera and we compare and discuss afterwards.
Sit down and share a moment with friends.
The museum was originally artist Noah Davis' studio, he began hosting art exhibitions there and gaining attention and acclaim and expanded into the surrounding buildings, creating an outdoor space and garden, all with the vision of creating the interactive experience that was to become the Underground Museum. Unfortunately Noah's life was cut short due to a rare form of cancer and passed away at age 32 in 2015. He was extremely prolific, planning 13 exhibitions with MOCA before his death, the current exhibition Artists of Color is the third. The museum and his legacy has continued on through the help of his family. His artist wife Karon, and brother video artist Khalil Joseph (director of Lemonade), carry on his legacy. Khalil also curates the summer movie series that hosts a different art or popular film every Friday night in the purple garden.
Movie night! We saw Get Out last summer, the place was packed but all were accommodated as we scrunched in together. Some on the floor sprawled on blankets, others on folding chairs. They handed out wine and popcorn. All gratis as it's put on in conjunction with the Film Foundation. Such a wonderful way to spend a summer evening, everyone under the stars enjoying a great film in a beautiful setting.
The purple garden is one of my favorite spots in the museum. It was built last and was Noah's final installation along with his father to create a calm, contemplative spot for the neighborhood to enjoy and rejuvenate itself. Having also lost friends to cancer at too young an age, I think its such a beautiful place to commemorate and memorialize. To be surrounded by lavender, jacaranda and wisteria in this urban garden and to be able to sit and reflect is so lovely. They have brightly colored parasols, you can use to shade yourself from the sun or find inspirational meaning from the quotes hanging from a nearby tree. His family must find so much solace to be able to come here and feel his presence and see how much joy it brings visitors. It's a place to commune, to reflect and to connect. The museum hosts weekly meditation and yoga sessions, and have readings and artist talks. All is not subdued though, they even hosted a block party at the end of December. See calendar here
Diana Thater - RGB Windows for MOCA adapted for the Underground Museum
Color PVC, metal brackets. "Color is nothing to be afraid of"
Selfie time, smiles all around.
Parasols and Amethyst Geodes complete the purple theme.
Tropix juice bar serves refreshing libations on hot days.
What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine, you create - Buddha
3508 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights, Los Angeles 90018
Wednesday-Sunday, 12:00 noon-7:00pm. Artists of Color on till April 1, 2018