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MOCA opens "First Thirty Years"

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, November 13, 2009, at 07:36PM
IMGP8391 Ed Fuentes

Guests gather at MOCA Grand Avenue for a Thursday preview of "Collection: MOCA's First Thirty Years."

One year after the contemporary art world was jolted by news that Downtown's Museum of Contemporary Art was on the edge of financial ruin, it's a new day on Grand Avenue. The institution is in much more solid financial shape and this Sunday will open "Collection: MOCA's First Thirty Years," featuring works from the museum's permanent holdings.

First, the museum holds a party to celebrate its achievment. MOCA's 30th Anniversary Gala will take place on Saturday night and features performances by Lady GaGa and members of the Bolshoi Ballet.

The public gets to join in the fun on Sunday, when the 500 piece exhibit officially opens. It showcases work by 200 artists, and encompasses both the Grand Avenue building and the Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo.

The exhibited works still only make up a tenth of MOCA's collection, which has been too large for its spaces from day one. On Grand Ave, works acquired before the opening of MOCA's main facility will be on display, while the Geffen will show works collected afterward. It is the first time the two Downtown spaces has been used in a joint exhibition.

Works were selected by Chief Curator Paul Schimmel, who sought to represent "the unique vision of the institution and to tell the history of post-war art from the standpoint of Los Angeles today."

Eli Broad, whose financial support helped save MOCA, is proud of the works it has collected. "The collection, as acquired since 1979, reflects the influence of California artists," said Broad. "Los Angeles has the second biggest population of working artists in the world."

The crisis gave MOCA a chance to rededicate itself to building a collection for the people. "That was always the intent, and with what we gone through on the past year, we refocused on that," said Young after the press conference. "The collections are devoted more to the public than they have been before."

"No 30 year journey is without bumps," he noted.

Broad expects to see that journey continue. "We can just look forward to the next 30 years," he said.

"Collection: MOCA's First Thirty Years" opens Sunday, November 15, and runs through May 3, 2010. Entry is free through Friday, November 20. MOCA Grand Avenue (250 S. Grand Ave) and Geffen Contemporary (152 N. Central Ave.)


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