A list of our favorite places on the web or “in real life” to go for California arts, history, and culture.
Instead of doing this as a blogroll, we thought you deserved to know why we like these places. We are adding more as we “experience” them so keep checking back, and please offer suggestions for anything we’re missing.
Current List as of April 16, 2018:
California Historical Society: The San Francisco-based CHS is the only institution I know of that is dedicated to preserving and making public the cultural and social history of California. If you live in the Bay Area, the CHS offers exhibitions and some excellent events. I’m making my first in-person trip this Summer, taking the family, and will probably shell out for a membership.
The J. Paul Getty Museum: Imagine a modern, spacious, comfortable and world-class facility for the appreciation of the visual and performing arts. Now stick it on a hillside with a stunning panoramic view of Southern California. I have been to many museums in my life, but few took my breath away with both setting, environment, and collections like this one has. While one might say The Getty vies with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles as the premier art museum in Southern California, but that would be missing the point. The three venues together form the core of the Southern California art scene.
KCRW Santa Monica: Without question one of the finest things to happen to radio since the invention of FM, KCRW is one of two outstanding public radio stations in Los Angeles. What sets KCRW apart, though, is that it has made itself over the years a broadcast magazine that keeps your ears and your frontal lobes tingling. A confession: I do not always agree with the political viewpoints that underlie some of the programming, but I get over it and wind up enjoying the station even when I want to yell at the radio. Findable almost anywhere in Southern California, for the rest of us their website offers live and pre-recorded access to most of the station’s programming.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Despite a name that suggests a government institution, the seven-building, twenty-acre LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States and serves as one of the pillars of the American art establishment, and lies at the core (with The Getty and MOCA) of Los Angeles’ status as a major center for visual and performing arts in the United States.
Los Angeles Review of Books: The amount of newsprint dedicated to the L.A. literary and arts scene has declined precipitously of late, not least being the Tribunized L.A. Times and Los Angeles Magazine. In response, a guerrilla band of Southland literary folks led by Tom Lutz has created this online publication that finally gives Los Angeles the literary journal it deserves. The site is topical, excellent, and frankly makes The New Yorker and the London Review of Books feel a bit…ossified (though we like them, too.)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA): Split into three unique facilities (MOCA Pacific Design Center, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and the MOCA Grand Avenue,) the museum is on a mission to become the defining venue for the exhibition, collection, and interpretation of art created since 1940.