Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Posts Tagged ‘downtown

Chapter 3 (Part 6): Private Collector Museum Conclusions

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“If you look at history, too many great collections ended up in storage and not being shown.”[i] – Eli Broad

The Great Tactician.

The Great Tactician.

Eli Broad, like Alice Walton, the Fishers and George Lucas, has a long history with the city in which he practices his “venture philanthropy.” Broad was not born in Los Angeles, but like the Fishers in San Francisco, he has a long involved history with existing arts and cultural institutions. He has sat and currently sits on the boards of many art museums. Like the Fishers, Lucas and Walton, his decision to build a museum to house his art collection is motivated (partially) by his commitment to his city. But Broad is also doing something in addition to what the Fishers, Lucas and Walton did with their museums; he is utilizing his museum project as leverage for further economic growth. Sure Walton sees Crystal Bridges as having a positive economic effect on Bentonville, but there is nothing in Bentonville: Crystal Bridges is the local economy. Broad is building his museum, not in a rural city, but in the second-most highly populated city in America. Los Angeles already has the strongest brand of any city in the world, and an existing diversified economy. Sure, part of Los Angeles’ economy depend on arts and culture, but it arguably has plenty of existing organizations and venues. If Eli Broad had attempted to build his museum in a place like San Francisco, he might have come up against more public opposition as did the Fishers and Lucas.

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Chapter 2 (Part 1): The Grand Avenue Project, Arrested (Re)Development

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Eli can be a real pain in the ass.”[i] – Frank Gehry, architect, Walt Disney Concert Hall

Grand Avenue framed by Disney Concert Hall.

Grand Avenue framed by Disney Concert Hall.

Eli Broad’s dealings with MOCA coincided and aligned to renewed, old interests in downtown Los Angeles. Broad served as chairman of the Grand Avenue Committee, an advisory body formed in 2000, responsible for planning and overseeing a massive $3 billion redevelopment plan for an area along Grand Avenue and Bunker Hill originally estimated to be completed in 2009.

In the previous decade, Broad had been instrumental in the realization of Walt Disney Concert Hall.  The widely recognized structure was designed by Frank Gehry in his now iconic style of undulating silver forms. Lillian Disney (wife of Walt) initiated the concert hall project in 1987, with an initial gift of $50 million.[ii]  It would take 16 years and another $224 million to complete the project.  The County of Los Angeles provided the land and $116 million in funding toward a six-level subterranean parking garage beneath Gehry’s building.   By the mid 1990’s, after years of sagging economy, the garage was the only complete portion of the project—capped with a  vacant slab of concrete.[iii] Enter Eli Broad and his fundraising partner-in-crime, Mayor Richard Riordan.  Both men personally contributed $5 million to revive the building campaign, and Broad helmed the fundraising effort and raised an additional $120 million dollars from private and corporate contributors in three years.[iv] Walt Disney Concert Hall finally opened in 2003.

Another Broad beneficiary located on Grand Avenue is Central Los Angeles Area High School #9, now called the Ramon C. Corteines School of Visual and Performing Arts. In 2001, Broad had encouraged school officials to build an architectural statement and create a school focused on visual and performing arts education, rather than the originally planned, modestly-priced, $87 million campus.[v]  Broad initially agreed to contribute to the project, but later threatened to withhold funding if the school did not operate as a charter high school as he saw fit.[vi]  The campus welcomed its first class in 2009 with a price tag of roughly $230 million.  Broad’s mission with the High School was accomplished: another architectural monument and another piece of Grand Avenue complete.

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Chapter 1 (Part 1): One Eli Broad Too Many, Or Not Enough?

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“Eli is not the problem. The problem is that we don’t have enough Elis in Los Angeles to balance out his generosity and the power of his influence.”[i]Ann Philbin, Director, Hammer Museum

A vestigial Victorian on Bunker Hill in 1966.

A vestigial Victorian on Bunker Hill in 1966.

Photographs of Los Angeles from fifty years ago capture an unfamiliar city. In the 1960s, downtown’s Bunker Hill was still occupied by a row of quiet Victorian houses. Since then, the Victorians have been cleared away and the city has experienced a population boom often illustrated as a mushroom cloud-shaped diagram, and now boasts a population of 9.86 million.[ii] While established in many ways, Los Angeles’s philanthropic culture is still in its infancy.  Despite ranking the second most populous city in America, the quantity of powerful philanthropists is insignificant at best.  Those who are active give to educational, environmental, health, and political causes.

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Introduction (Part 2): The Veil, the Vault and the Avenue

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“The museum’s ‘veil’ lifts at its corners, welcoming visitors in.”[i]
– Elizabeth Diller, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, architects, The Broad

Conceptual Rendering of the “Veil and the Vault” by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Conceptual Rendering of the “Veil and the Vault” by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The new, $100 million museum will be called The Broad, after its founder, local philanthropist Eli Broad.  The sure-to-be-iconic building houses 50,000 square feet of exhibition and storage space for the Broad collections, and is designed by world-renowned architecture firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro.  It will be located on Grand Avenue in downtown, and will sit directly across from both Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).  It is a testament to Broad’s generosity and also to his ability to negotiate a public-private project. Read the rest of this entry »

Introduction (Part 1): Public-Private Development Partnerships

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It may seem unconventional to begin a thesis in arts administration by discussing a football stadium.  This thesis is an exploration of urban planning in Los Angeles involving large-scale, public-private development. In the following chapters, I document how philanthropist Eli Broad’s under-construction contemporary art museum, The Broad, is being utilized to stimulate further redevelopment of an area of downtown Los Angeles called Bunker Hill.  The Broad museum and the larger, coinciding Grand Avenue Project has engendered some conversation about the investment associated with public-private development projects, and the resulting public and private benefits.  However, the amount of dialogue about investment and return benefit involved with the Broad museum and Grand Avenue is minimal in comparison to another large-scale, public-private development proposal less than two miles away: Farmer’s Field.  The proposed downtown National Football League stadium has garnered substantial, well-publicized and in-depth political, social, and economic debate about investments and benefits. For this reason, I believe reflecting on some of the lively discussions circulating abound Farmer’s Field can be useful in introducing similar questions and concerns, which may not have been addressed or considered, or worse ignored, in the planning process of The Broad museum.

FIELD OF SCHEMES? – PUBLIC-PRIVATE INVESTMENT & BENEFIT

“We’ve built more arenas and stadiums than anyone in the world, ever–including the Romans!”[i]
– Tim Leiweke, President and C.E.O., Anschutz Entertainment Group

It is a plotline ripped from the popular television show Entourage (season 7 to be specific).  Big-time developer Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) wants to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles.  AEG’s tactic to lure a franchise to the city is to build a brand new 1.3 billion stadium in downtown. The new stadium, which AEG has already sold naming rights to, will be called Farmers Field, after the insurance company.  AEG plans to squeeze the 72,000-seat stadium into the already dense LA Live—an entertainment and sports cluster, which AEG has spent more than a decade developing between the Figueroa corridor and the 110 Freeway.  LA Live includes the Staples Center (home to both the Lakers and Clippers NBA franchises), Nokia Theaters, Regal Cinemas, JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton, and Grammy Museum.  AEG has appealed for both public and government support of the project by communicating its record of success and by touting a lengthy list of impressive economic benefits, which AEG claims, the city would receive should the NFL return:  tens of thousands of jobs, construction of nearby hotels, a revived Convention Center, and hundreds of millions of dollars in increased economic activity.[ii]  The economic influence seems incalculable and the project non-negotiable.

Does (downtown) Los Angeles need an NFL stadium?

Does (downtown) Los Angeles need an NFL stadium?

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Siqueiros Americá Tropical Project

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El Pueblo Historic Monument

Street art is having something of a moment right now in Los Angeles.  MOCA’s Art in the Streets show is totally loved and totally hated. And somehow MOCA has managed to underplay the censorship issues that arose months ago when the graffiti artist Blu’s mural was whitewashed from the Geffen Contemporary’s north wall.  I’ve been told Blu wanted to show Deitch sketches for the mural, but Deitch couldn’t (wouldn’t?) because he was too busy at Basel in Miami…

Caught in the act.

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Museum Marketing: Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France

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Art Institute of Chicago

If you’re like me, you already check out your reflection in the huge windows of ground floor lobbies in downtown.  Don’t lie; it’s impossible not to when faced with such large expanses of glass.  The Art Institute’s marketing campaign for its current temporary exhibition, show Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France only makes things worse (or better).  Better.  Museums in Chicago love a creative marketing campaign (see previous post on The Horse at the Field).

Look at yourself, just look at yourself!

Why this campaign is better than the Horse campaign: The campaign uses artwork in the exhibition.  Both Jean Bourdichon’s Louis XII Kneeling in Prayer (1498/99) and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder are used.  (The latter is the clear superstar of the show.)  The marketing campaign pairs these paintings with large, silver, reflective material, on which are printed crowns and scepters.  The idea is to look into these mirrors and picture yourself as a King or Queen, or as a Madonna…

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