Deitch said he hopes to organize shows where “you get a big gate with admission fees, substantial sales of merchandise, and attract potential sponsors who want to be part of this. It’s a model without all the overhead of a museum and its collections and departments. I believe it’s possible for programs to be much more self-supporting than the conventional museum approach.”

One of them might be “Fire in the Disco,” an exhibition focused on how the culture of disco music and visual art fed each other during the 1970s. Deitch had announced it in 2012 as a show he was developing for MOCA. On Tuesday he said the show is off MOCA’s agenda and he’s free to run with it on his own.

“We’ve gone very far with that,” Deitch said. “We have the whole curatorial team. It doesn’t need a museum to be realized, it can be self-supporting.”

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Deitch said that other exhibition ideas he’d initiated at MOCA still might come to fruition at the museum, but it would depend on whether his eventual successor would want to carry them forward.

MOCA spokeswoman Lyn Winter attended the REDCAT event and said the search for a new director was continuing and would likely take additional months.

Part of the discussion focused on why L.A. hadn’t developed the kind of freewheeling, informal meeting places for creative cross pollination that Deitch said Mr. Chow became in late-'60s London and in the early 1980s in New York City, when he recalled mixing with luminaries such as Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Manhattan Mr. Chow that opened in 1979. The restaurant's Beverly Hills edition, open since 1974, is known for its Hollywood clientele rather than for visual artists and rock musicians.

“The most exciting periods in our culture are periods when it all converges  fashion, art, film, they all interrelate and one form makes the other more interesting,” Deitch said during the discussion. “We were hoping to have that energy here [in L.A.]. It hasn’t totally converged yet, but there’s great potential for it.”

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The theme of L.A. somehow not having reached a level of visual art convergence was not tempered during the discussion by any mention of the blossoming of the Southern California art scene that was documented by the Getty Trust-instigated “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980” region-wide exhibition initiative of 2011.

That flowering sprang largely from educational institutions that attracted and fostered brilliant students who stayed in L.A. to launch their careers among them CalArts and its precursor, the Chouinard Art Institute, UCLA, Otis College of Art and Design and UC Irvine. The late Mike Kelley, who trained at CalArts, and UC Irvine alumnus Chris Burden are the subjects of current major retrospectives at Manhattan museums.

But this was not an evening for focusing on the accomplishments and legacies of institutions, the assumption being that creativity's next phase will belong more to entrepreneurs than institution-builders.


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