Getting cultured in downtown LA

Street art brightens corners of downtown Los Angeles. PHOTOS: PAM JONES
Street art brightens corners of downtown Los Angeles. PHOTOS: PAM JONES
Street art brightens corners of downtown Los Angeles. PHOTOS: PAM JONES
Street art brightens corners of downtown Los Angeles. PHOTOS: PAM JONES
Street art brightens corners of downtown Los Angeles. PHOTOS: PAM JONES
Street art brightens corners of downtown Los Angeles. PHOTOS: PAM JONES
A touch of Hollywood glamour features at Hotel Indigo, in LA's historic core. PHOTO: PAM JONES
A touch of Hollywood glamour features at Hotel Indigo, in LA's historic core. PHOTO: PAM JONES
A touch of Hollywood glamour features at Hotel Indigo, in LA's historic core. PHOTO: PAM JONES
A touch of Hollywood glamour features at Hotel Indigo, in LA's historic core. PHOTO: PAM JONES

Pam Jones seeks out Los Angeles' adventurous side as she enjoys six of the best art and culture experiences in downtown LA.

1. The city's Hollywood Walk of Fame and Beverley Hills shopping get most of the tourist attention, but for arts and culture you should head to downtown LA. The Broad contemporary art museum takes centre stage on Grand Avenue, a "veil-and-vault" philosophy featuring two floors of gallery space and peeks at its stored collection.

Breathe in the innovation of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Gensler architectural design as you view art by names such as Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Top tip: buy your tickets in advance. There are standby queues but a little forward planning goes a long way. The museum is closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Blue)" takes pride of place in The Broad contemporary art museum, in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Pam Jones
Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Blue)" takes pride of place in The Broad contemporary art museum, in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Pam Jones

2. Just across from The Broad, the Musuem of Contemporary Art (Moca) is another showcase of modern art, all from post-1940. As well as its permanent and changing exhibitions, the artist-founded museum hosts lectures, readings, films, performances and even pop-up shops. Moca also has a gallery in LA's Little Tokyo Historic District, and Double Negative, a work of "land art" by the artist Michael Heizer in the Moapa Valley, Nevada. Forward bookings for downtown Moca are not necessary; walk-ins are fine.

A glimpse of Los Angeles cityscape is seen from the courtyard outside the Museum of Contemporary Art, in downtown LA. Photo: Pam Jones
A glimpse of Los Angeles cityscape is seen from the courtyard outside the Museum of Contemporary Art, in downtown LA. Photo: Pam Jones

3. Pizza? Yes please. Try the Wholefoods Market on South Grand Avenue for all foods good, quick and honest - just how the Angelenos like it. As well as pizza by the (huge) slice, a parmesan shaker by the side, you can get artisan food on the go from pretty much any and every cuisine: Mexican, Asian, bagels, fresh fruit. The biggest queue is often at the cheekily-named "Eggslut" (their designer sandwiches are served in warm brioche buns) but the pork and crackling stuffed tacos at Villa Moreliana and freshly whizzed juices at La Fruteria Drinks are pretty good too. Eat like the locals and pull up a chair at tables on the street out the back.

4. The breath-taking Walt Disney Concert Hall on South Grand Avenue is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center and an architectural feast, designed by Frank Gehry. Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale, it also features the Library of Congress/Ira Gershwin Gallery, which rotates its collection bi-annually and can be viewed either on a group tour or when attending a performance inside the Concert Hall.

Pizza by the slice is ready for the taking at the Wholefoods Market, on South Grand Avenue. Photo: Pam Jones
Pizza by the slice is ready for the taking at the Wholefoods Market, on South Grand Avenue. Photo: Pam Jones

5. But not all the art and culture is indoors. Soak up the skill of street artists as you are greeted by  ever-changing works on concrete canvases on street corners and in carparks. It's gritty, stimulating, top quality work that adds to the tang and interest of downtown neighbourhoods such as the flower district, jewellery district, gallery row, Bunker Hill and South Park. A couple of neighbourhoods over, there is an even greater concentration of street art in the arts district.

6. Of course at the end of each day, make sure you have a safe place to lay your head. Hotel Indigo, in LA's historic core, continues the arts theme of downtown LA with its mix of modern and vintage decor - private rooms and open spaces honour things such as the golden age of Hollywood and historic Chinatown. It's a nice touch of glamour, including in the foyer and bar, where an installation of top hats is a work of art in itself. Take in an LA cocktail as you plan your next chapter of downtown LA.

The Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall turns heads on South Grand Avenue. Photo: Pam Jones
The Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall turns heads on South Grand Avenue. Photo: Pam Jones

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