Known as the land of celebrities and rhinoplasty, LA's underground arts scene has long been eclipsed by that of New York, at least in reputation. However LA is looking like North America's next art capital as many east coast creatives are moving en masse to the green pastures of the west, adding to its growing arts industry. And if you're looking to get a taste of the City of Angels' creative side, we've got the perfect tasting menu of private galleries for you. We've paired each uber-cool gallery with the best neighboring drinking spots. Because what's an art show if you can't have cocktail-fuelled debates about it afterwards?
Night Gallery | Wolf and Crane
2276 E 16th St | 366 E 2nd St
More than just an artist-run gallery, Night Gallery is a late-night phenomenon run by two badass chicks. Ever since photographer Davida Nemeroff founded the space in a strip mall six years ago, it has grown and served as the go-to spot for the edgiest of LA creatives. Although it's no longer a clubhouse-come-gallery, it has kept its late hours and cool-kid vibes.
After an evening at Night Gallery, trot over to Wolf and Crane, where you'll find Manga-plastered walls, sophisticated sake drinks and relaxed vibes, making this Little Tokyo haunt a true local favorite. The owners' dedication to the neighbourhood's Japanese heritage is appreciable, beautiful and tastefully done.
Steve Turner | Ten Pound Whiskey Bar
6830 Santa Monica Blvd | 225 N Canon Dr
Turner has been making waves since 2007 with his sleek curation of multi-media and conceptual art from the Americas, both North and South. With buzz-worthy contemporary artists such as Yung Jake and William Pope.L under his roster, each exhibit promises a good time. Take the recent show Your Logo Here by Jonas Lund as an example, where visitors signed up to play ping pong against a robot.
After getting your fill of visual art, head down the street to the Montage Hotel and get some art for your tastebuds. On the second floor you'll find the Ten Pound bar, home to the finest 64-year-old single malt scotch in town. True whisky conoisseurs, take note.
MAMA Gallery | The Varnish
1242 Palmetto St | 118 E 6th St
An Arts District gallery with a Hollywood vibe, MAMA caters to the highbrow-yet-still-edgy art seekers of LA. The contemporary space is as large and white as an Apple store, punctuated by the bold canvases of up-and-coming international artists such as Daniel Johnston and Mattea Perrota. Run by two artists themselves, the shows are always engaging and draw a good audience.
Follow up afterwards with a visit to the iconic Varnish, the bar that first put LA on the craft cocktails map back in 2009. If you're looking for some serious mixology, this is your number one option. Even better: it's a hidden seakeasy behind Cole's Buffet, indicated only by a discrete cocktail symbol. Cheeky.
Blum & Poe | The Mandrake Bar
2727 S La Cienega Blvd | 2692 S La Cienega Blvd
Jeff Poe and Tim Blum joined forces way back in 1994, but it wasn't until this year (when Kanye decided to show his Famous exhibit at Blum & Poe) that the gallery really took off. With recent branch openings in New York and Tokyo, the pair are staying loyal to their roots by bringing historically-significant works from around the world back home to Culver City. Their philosophical focus on storytelling and an aversion to institutionalized curation, make them a rare gem worth checking out.
Just around the corner is another local gem by the name of Mandrake Bar, offering an interesting mix of hip clientele and unpretentious world-class cocktails. We recommend grabbing a Moscow Mule and heading to the outdoor patio, before hitting the dance floor.
Kohn Gallery | Sassafras Saloon
1227 North Highland Ave | 1233 N. Vine St
Craving something cheeky and whimsical? Kohn Gallery has you covered. The stylish 12,000-square-foot space features pop-art and modern masters, and was the gallery of choice for Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup Box in 1986.
And it's only natural that a visit to Kohn is followed up by an equally offbeat watering hole. Enter Sassafras. This Old-West-meets-New-Orleans style saloon features unique strong drinks, fun photo booths, and wonderfully weird live shows. All mixers are made in-house, and the food is just as reputable as the cocktails. Get the 'Sex On The Bayou' if you like it sweet, or an 'Oaxacan Airboat' if you like it tart.
Leimin Space | Caña Rum Bar
443 Lei Min Way | 714 West Olympic Blvd
Leimin is a young artist-run gallery in Chinatown that curates up-and-coming media that's as visually quirky as it is thought provoking. Plastered in pink paint and faux grass, the space itself is an interesting mix between kitsch and futurism, featuring only female artists. After that, continue down the street to Ooga Booga — a sweet little store and gallery in one, full of art books, magazines and design objects that will delight any aesthete.
Even further down the street you'll find Caña Rum Bar; an exclusive 1930s Caribbean-inspired space where 250 rare small-batch rums and LA's best daiquiris await you. Bonus: they even have a full menu of Cuban cigars.
Four Larks | Las Perlas
242 S Broadway | 107 East 6th St
Defining themselves as a "junkyard opera", Four Larks is as interesting as it gets when it comes to contemporary theatre. Throwing away old-school associations with formal venues and stiff seating, this art collective combines large-scale visual designs, innovative musical performances and eye-popping dance in their shows. Recent projects have taken audiences through alleyways and abandoned buildings throughout the city, but they always wrap up their shows with live concerts at the Basic Flower headquarters.
If you're still looking for more action afterwards, take yourself to Las Perlas, the nation's first mezcal bar. Truly authentic to the core, everything from the food to the regional Mexican music and expert staff are on point. No tacky decor, 100 percent delicious.