Art in a former church and underground museum

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Even with dozens of museums and hundreds of galleries, Los Angeles' art scene is full of surprises hidden in plain sight.

Installation shot: "Artists of Color" at the Underground Museum

Last Sunday, I drove along Washington Boulevard to Arlington Heights, to see the current exhibition Artists of Color at the Underground Museum. Yes, this is the official name of the Museum, which occupies a nondescript one-story building without any sign or logo identifying what's inside. So, my friends, before driving there, make sure you Google it…

Installation shot: "Artists of Color" at the Underground Museum

Since 2015, the Underground Museum, in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art, has been organizing exhibitions with artworks drawn from MOCA's permanent collection. The Underground Museum started as a joint project masterminded by artist Noah Davis (1983-2015) and MOCA curator Helen Molesworth. Now, two years after the untimely death of Noah Davis at the age of 32, The Underground Museum continues to show exhibitions conceived by him in a "largely working-class black and Latino neighborhood at the heart of Los Angeles" (LA Times).

(L) Diana Thater, RGB Windows for MOCA adapted for the Underground Museum
(R) A sign on the exterior façade of the Underground Museum

The tongue-in-cheek title of the current exhibition, Artists of Color, indicates that color is the way a wide variety of artists express their aesthetic, belief, and culture – regardless of the color of their skin. From Lita Albuquerque's signature intense blue sphere, to Noah Davis' purple painting, with a wall text quote by the artist that says, "Purple is to black people what Yves Klein's Blue is to white people". Hmm… never thought about that.

Open Art Studios at former church on South Broadway, now known as Blue Roof Studios
The artwork of Galia Linn

So now, let's get back in the car and drive down the 110 to South Los Angeles, to the 73rd block of South Broadway Boulevard, to a former church that has been transformed into an art complex under the name Blue Roof Studios. And, once again, there is no sign or logo indicating what's hidden behind the façade.

Open Art Studios at former church on South Broadway, now known as Blue Roof Studios
The artwork of Galia Linn

I learned about this through an intriguing email announcement that came from Los Angeles artist Galia Linn, whose career I have been following for a number of years. So, here I am, entering the vast ground floor space, with a number of ceramic sculptures and paintings by Galia, who is the adventurous mastermind behind this new multidisciplinary art hub.

Institut IDGAF performs during Open Art Studios at former church on 
 on South Broadway, now known as Blue Roof Studios

Upstairs, I found several small studios occupied by different artists. One studio was transformed into a small stage for a performance artist, who continuously and mysteriously moved and danced through the space, even when no one was watching her. With the exception of special events, Blue Roof Studios is not open to the public. You may learn more about upcoming events there if you visit their website.

As I like to say, Los Angeles' art scene is like a mysterious onion – you peel its layers, and instead of getting smaller, this cultural onion gets bigger and bigger.