The Westward migration continues. Franklin Parrasch gallery, a longtime New York space, is opening a Los Angeles branch in January. The 5,000-square-foot space launches with a survey of works by the celebrated Los Angeles ceramist Ken Price, an artist the gallery represented during his lifetime.
Parrasch, who began his career as a gallerist in Washington, D.C., before moving to New York City in the late 1980s, says the move came as a result of his long-running representation of a number of important L.A. artists over the years — among them, light and space sculptor Peter Alexander and painters Billy Al Bengston and John Altoon.
“The gallery has had a lot of L.A.-based artists and clients for quite a while, for like 20 years,” Parrasch said via telephone from New York. “And [my partner] Chris Heijnen had been in L.A. as a liaison with clients and artists there, so the gallery evolved out of that.”
The new space is on Boyle Avenue, in an old luncheonette once employed by the Sears building nearby. And the exhibition space will be intimate — just 2,000 square feet — avoiding an ongoing gallery trend toward gigantism.
“It’s comfortable,” Parrasch said, “kind of homey, not sterile or anything like that.”
The location puts the gallery right across the Los Angeles River from the growing cluster of arts spaces in the southern reaches of downtown, such as CB1 Gallery, Rosamund Felsen Gallery and The Mistake Room. It also puts them in the company of other riverside Boyle Heights spaces such as 356 Mission, Venus and Maccarone.
The rising number of galleries on the eastern banks of the L.A. River has not gone unnoticed by longtime area locals, who are concerned about gentrification. Residents of the predominantly working-class Mexican and Mexican American neighborhood have been battling development projects in the residential parts of the district. And earlier this month, a group of students from the CALÓ Youthbuild charter school staged a pop-up protest exhibition outside of Maccarone.
Parrasch said that, for him, Boyle Heights’ culture is part of the appeal: “There is culture there — and culture mixes with culture.”
For now, he is at work prepping the Price show, which will bring together sculptures from throughout the artist’s long career — one in which he consistently innovated in form and material, but also size.
“Ken was really about messing around with scale,” Parrasch said. “He really upended your concept that bigger is better. His work has a grand vision, but it’s small in its physical space.”
Franklin Parrasch will open in Boyle Heights in January. Go to franklinparrasch.com for forthcoming exhibition dates and shows.
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