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Arts Council Plans to Move Gallery From Warner Center to Trillium

Times Staff Writer

The San Fernando Valley Arts Council, which lost the lease on its Warner Center Art Gallery several months ago, may soon move into a larger space just down the block.

The developers of the relatively new Trillium towers have offered to donate a ground-floor office to the arts council for at least 6 months. With high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and 7,100 square feet of space, the new gallery represents an aesthetic improvement over the council’s smaller previous home.

“I’m not surprised, just glad,” said James Tolbert, arts council president, of the Trillium’s offer. “We’re very excited about this place.”

But one technicality remains before the arts council can move to its home on Canoga Avenue between Erwin Street and Victory Boulevard.

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The Trillium’s city permit stipulates that offices in the building must be fully finished before they can be occupied. The room being offered as a gallery has no paint on the walls, no carpets and open duct work--in other words, it looks like a modern art gallery.

Kravetz Terheggen Partners, the firm that built the Trillium, must seek approval from the city Building and Safety Department to make an exception on its permit.

City officials said they have granted similar variances in the past.

“I think the city’s going to look at this as something positive for the community,” said Barbara Leeds, the Trillium’s property manager, who estimated that approval might be obtained within 6 weeks. “Anytime you can encourage art, particularly in the San Fernando Valley, it’s positive.”

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The arts council is already making plans for the new space. Tolbert hopes to mount an exhibit within a week of the city’s approval.

Even if the arts council is allowed to move into the 17-story tower, its stay may be short. The council has been assured of tenancy for 6 months, but after that the gallery must surrender its space if a commercial or retail business decides to rent the office.

The council’s previous gallery operated under a similar deal with the Voit Cos. That agreement lasted 2 years before a retail business rented the space in the Warner Center building.

“We were able to let them use the space at no cost and it was good for the community,” said Art Smith, Voit’s director of assets management. “On the other hand, we’re now looking forward to having a card-and-gift shop in the building, which is something we’ve always wanted.”

Tolbert said the arts council is accustomed to a nomadic existence and more than happy to have somewhere to hang their paintings.

“We realize some big outfit is going to take this space sooner or later,” he said. “In the meantime, we’ll have a nice space to show art.”


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