LOS ANGELES, CA.- LAXART
announced plans to open its first dedicated home in Los Angeles. Set to open in fall 2022, the new space will build on the organizations legacy of artist-centered programming and leadership, while more than doubling its exhibition space. It will establish LAXART as an anchor in a growing neighborhood of Melrose Hills that is seeing an influx of new businesses and commercial galleries. LAXARTs current space will close to the public at the end of June 2022.
Today, we begin the next chapter in LAXARTs life. A permanent home gives us the opportunity to reimagine what an alternative art space can be while putting down roots in an evolving cultural capital like Los Angeles, shared Hamza Walker, director of LAXART. The uncertain, early days of the pandemic instigated some institutional soul searching, forcing us to identify and squarely confront deeper, more systemic challenges. The most fundamental of these was to secure a permanent home. For most mid-scale, non-profit arts organizations, this isnt 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.
John Frane, an LAXART board member and Design Principal of HGA Architects, is working with LAXARTs staff and board to create the overall design concept of their new home. In addition to his over thirty years of working on projects in the visual and performing arts, Franes deep knowledge of LAXART gives him a unique understanding of the organization and its goals, both programmatically and institutionally. The vision for LAXARTs new space is inspired by its commitment to offering artists a safe and open place to respond to current issues. LAXARTs initial designs are reductive and raw, a clean slate that invites artists to activate the space and consider what is possible within its walls, enabling the diverse range of projects for which LAXART is known. Equally exciting, the building and site allow for evolving and expanding notions of how LAXART supports its mission, the artists it works with, and the growth of its staff.
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, said Glenn Ligon, artist and board member at LAXART. I am honored to work alongside Hamza Walker, my fellow board members, and LAXARTs wonderful staff to ensure the organizations vibrancy, relevance, and educational importance.
The one-story, brick and concrete building will have a prominent façade on Western Boulevard and will more than double LAXARTs current exhibition space. Its approximately 5,000 square feet of adjustable presentation space will be filled with natural light from skylights above. It will also include increased space for the organizations many community and education programs as well as shared workspace for the staff. A former parking lot and loading area off the alley will be re-envisioned into a multi-purpose, outdoor gathering space for LAXART, providing additional opportunities for installations, events, and social happenings.
LAXART revealed that the quiet phase of fundraising has already achieved nearly fifty percent of the goal of $5 million for the building campaign. LAXARTs Board of Directors and a handful of key supporting artists stepped-up to pledge support to the building campaign, including major gifts by board chair Margaret Morgan and her husband Wesley Phoa, former board member Conor ONeil, and artists Albert Oehlen and Laura Owens. Artists Jacqueline Humphries, Arthur Jafa, Barbara Kruger, board member Glenn Ligon, Christina Quarles, and Jonas Wood donated artworks, which were auctioned in support of the building campaign at Christies in November 2021, with the auction house making an additional donation to LAXART on top of the proceeds. These critical donations and the remaining funds to be raised will cover the purchase and renovation of the organizations first permanent home as well as the first year of programming, performances, and public programs in the space.
A permanent location has been a key component of Hamzas and the boards vision. I am thrilled to see it become a reality, shared Margaret Morgan, Chair of LAXARTs board of directors. 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. Our new building gives LAXART the stability to expand our life with artists and our role in civic discourse, in Los Angeles, the nation, and beyond. I know LAXARTs incredible staff and leadership and the people we work with will accomplish great things in our new home. Im so grateful for the support of the board and the broader art community and I am moved by the special outpouring of support by artists who know as well as anyone that we all need a room of our own.