Molly Beauchemin

Craving Art in Los Angeles? Spend A Sunny Afternoon At Hauser & Wirth

In last two decades, Ursula Hauser and Iwan and Manuela Wirth have made a name for themselves as being three of the most influential figures in the art world (if the not the top three). Their chain of galleries, Hauser & Wirth, has become an international brand synonymous with thought-provoking, contemporary art, and now boasts outposts in London, New York, Somerset, and Gstaad.

The latest addition to their impressive line-up is Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, which opened in the increasingly trendy downtown LA last year. Like their sister site Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Hauser & Wirth LA smartly blends art, food, and gardening into a community space– this one infused with urban, industrial flair of Los Angeles.

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Photo: Molly Beauchemin

Hauser & Wirth LA’s edge is most evident in the garden, which is dominated by a mural done by Else Oner and Jeanette Paredes– a feature of the building which was there long before Hauser & Wirth LA, and which they retain as a tribute to the area’s storied cultural landscape. (The building itself is a former flour mill, and much of the original machinery is left intact, further adding to the reclaimed vibe.) Paired with the beds of vegetables in the public garden below, the sight captures the doubled spirit of Los Angeles– urban and nature– and makes for one of LA’s coolest photo opps.

“When people walk in here, we’re not a white box, white cube sort of space. We have a breezeway that spans from one end of the block to the other end of the block,” Elizabeth Portanova, the Communications Manager, tells GC. The building Hauser & Wirth LA occupies an entire city block that is exposed to the open air above, and to the street along the sides.

“People come in and meander and they stumble on our public garden, which we really want as a space for contemplation, serenity, community, and also as a place to relax and contemplate the art,” Portanova continues. “It’s about inclusivity– the full picture. Not just ‘Art,’ but art from all angles. Whether that’s the art of growing a garden, the art of cooking, or the art of art. At the end of the day, our mission is to be a space for artists, and innovation. It’s about this 21st century new model for a gallery.”

In pursuit of this integrated, more community-minded perspective, every Sunday Jake Mumm, the resident gardener, hosts opens hours, where anyone can come in and pose their botanically-minded questions, or inquire about what’s growing. One Sunday per month, the garden also hosts a family garden workshop in partnership with the Garden School Foundation, typically featuring hands-on demos focused on sustainable living.

In addition to acting as a public space, the garden also supplies produce and herbs for Manuela, Hauser & Wirth LA’s in-house restaurant. Manuela’s menu has its roots in chef Wes Witsell’s North Texas upbringing, while embracing the California ethos of local, farm-fresh ingredients; the result are dishes like bacon wrapped elk loin with fermented radicchio– happy marriages of Southern and West Coast cuisine.

Also part of the garden and kitchen’s coterie are a roost of plump chickens (keep an eye out for Minerva, the troublemaker of the group, known to leap the fence), whose pen in the garden is decked out with a swing. (Even chickens are prone to a little whimsy now and then.)

Photo: Molly Beauchemin

A year in, the three aspects of Hauser & Wirth LA (the art, the food, the garden) have established a comfortable symbiosis. Each component pulls in a different group to the space, leading to a remarkable cross pollination that wouldn’t otherwise occur. In this way, the gallery is for anyone curious, making the art world more accessible (and less intimidating!) in the process.

Though the gallery is only open Thursdays through Sundays, Manuela is open everyday and the garden is open whenever one of the other two is. Our favorite plan of action? Start your morning with a yoga class at The Springs, grab a smoothie from Café Gratitude to savor in Hauser & Wirth LA’s public garden, then head to the gallery proper for some intellectual stimulation, and close out the afternoon with food at Manuela.

To learn more about Hauser & Wirth LA, visit their website.

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