The art hierarchy of Southern California, though slightly newer and looser than its East Coast counterparts like New York or Boston, was still established long ago . There are galleries worth the commute, museum openings worth the crowds, and the rest not worth your time. There’s a little wiggle room, certainly, for new galleries or art spaces to cause a stir and join the ranks–if they can pull it off. But one thing’s for certain: it’s not often a new museum throws open its doors.
With institutions with LACMA, the Norton Simon and the Getty so well established and funded, it’s a daring move to open an entirely new space. But that’s exactly the kind of risk that keeps the art world exciting. Enter the El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA to those in the know)…
Slated to open in early 2013, ESMoA is the brainchild of collectors and philanthropists, Eva and Brian Sweeney. Through their foundation, artlab21, and other campaigns, the Sweeneys have dedicated themselves to expanding arts awareness locally and internationally. An impressive resume, certainly, but add to it the following: they also have a tremendous collection of art (including Impressionist works by Monet, Sisley and Pissarro, 20th-century works on paper of Klimt, Khnopff, Alma-Tadema; Pop from Rauschenberg to Warhol; Photorealism stars from Close to Estes; and contemporary artists like Peter Doig and Ghada Amer among many others).
So, when the Sweeneys were approached by former El Segundo mayor, Eric Busch, about making their collection available to the public, the idea of ESMoA developed.
Today, ESMoA is almost ready to open to the public. Its new home, built on an empty lot in downtown El Segundo, focuses on sustainability and community accessibility. The space has been branded an “art laboratory,” meaning that it plans to dedicate as much attention to arts creation, education, and development as its exhibit calendar.
ESMoA will open on January 27, 2013 with DESIRE, an exhibition that explores the paradox of nature and its human perception from 19th-century French Realism to contemporary art. It’s as much an exhibit as a moment in Southern California art history that you shouldn’t miss.