Los Angeles Art Association

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Los Angeles Art Association
Los Angeles Art Association (logo).jpg
Founded 1925
Type nonprofit arts organization
  • 825 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069
Area served
Southern California
Products Contemporary Art
Services Exhibition, Mentorship, Artist Career Workshops, Panel discussion, Film & Video 825, Peer Review Groups, Public Art Classes, International Cultural Exchange
Key people
Peter Mays, Nancy Kaye, Midge Lynn, Linda Johannesen, Rebecca Hamm, Michael E. Napoliello, Jr., Melissa Pugash, Neil Wertlieb
Mission support emerging Los Angeles artists
Website www.laaa.org

The Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA) is a membership-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports Southern California artists. LAAA's mission is to provide opportunities, resources, services and exhibition venues for artists living in Southern California, with an emphasis on emerging talent. Founded in 1925, LAAA has launched the art careers of many celebrated artists and has played a central role in the formation of Los Angeles' arts community.

Today, LAAA continues to play a central role in the Los Angeles arts community by providing artist members and the public with exceptional exhibitions and programs, as well as a forum for exchange and education through lectures, workshops and networking opportunities. LAAA serves a broad cross section of artists of all mediums, career levels and socio-economic backgrounds, including those from low income communities. By supporting the emerging talent at the onset of their career path, LAAA hopes to influence all the cultural stakeholder groups in Los Angeles and contribute to the cultural identity of the community. LAAA pledges to provide emerging artists with the experience, education and exposure needed to create and sustain a career in the arts.

Gallery 825[edit]

Gallery 825 on La Cienega Boulevard is LAAA's exhibition arm for contemporary art. Purchased in 1958, the gallery provides LAAA artists with a professional venue in which to show their work. There are four individual gallery spaces within the main building, which allows the gallery to host four individual programs simultaneously. The largest gallery, the North Gallery, hosts juried group shows, while the smaller galleries (South, Center and Wurdemann) feature solo artist exhibitions.

At this venue, LAAA hosts a wide variety of group shows, solo shows, lectures, workshops and artist talks. All LAAA exhibition opportunities are juried by regional and national art professionals—giving emerging artists access to the highest level decision makers in the art world. Gallery 825 also extends its venue to local non-profit groups in a spirit of collaboration, and to raise the visibility of fellow arts organizations.

Events and Exhibitions in Los Angeles[edit]

Solo and Group Shows[edit]

Each year, LAAA holds eight shows at Gallery 825 for their artist members. Themes for previous shows involved topics such as the intersection between art and technology; superficial likeness or image in contemporary culture; multiples, patterns and repetition in contemporary art practice. The types of shows include:

  • juried group member shows
  • open juried shows for both members and non-members
  • solo and group shows
  • invitationals
  • proposals

Although most exhibitions only feature members, LAAA has two annual shows available to all Southern Californian artists: the Open Show and Out There. The Open Show occurs every December and has developed into one of the most potent survey exhibitions of emerging art. Out There is a special exhibition that celebrates the LGBT experience during West Hollywood's Pride Month festivities.

Past Jurors[edit]

Juried shows enlist the aid of prominent critics, curators, museum professionals, artists and educators. Juried shows are scheduled approximately one year in advance.

Annual Benefit Auction[edit]

Art Fairs[edit]

  • LA Art Show
  • Photo LA
  • Art Platform
  • Beverly Hills Art Show
  • Palm Springs Fine Art Fair

National and International Presence[edit]

United States[edit]

  • Harvard
  • Art Basel Miami


  • Art Basel


Other LAAA programs include:

  • Mentoring opportunities for young artists with established artists
  • Ongoing career preparedness and workplace readiness workshops for artists
  • Panel discussions with artists and art historians
  • Film & Video 825 - screenings of local and nationally recognized video artists’ work
  • LAAA Artist Sponsorships
  • Peer Critique Groups
  • Public Art Classes - Ongoing studio art classes
  • International cultural exchange opportunities for LAAA artists

Exclusive Events for Art Supporters[edit]

Emerging Arts Leader Awards[edit]


  • Shepard Fairey dinner


Non-member artists have two opportunities each year to apply for membership. Screenings are held at the beginning and middle of each calendar year. A seven-member panel composed of art collectors, artist members, LAAA board members and prominent figures from other local art institutions select artists for admission based on the strength of their work and their potential to succeed. There is no defined criteria for acceptance; typically accepted artists are at the stage of development where they are ready to engage in dialogue with the contemporary art world on a domestic and international level.

Guest jurors differ for each screening, thereby allowing for a more objective screening process; previously rejected applicants, who apply again, will always have their work reviewed by a new exhibition committee. Although LAAA has no restriction for the number of admitted artists, the application process has proven to be highly selective. On average, LAAA receives 150 submissions per screening and accepts about 20%.


Peter Mays, Executive Director[edit]

Peter Mays is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA) and its premiere La Cienega exhibition space Gallery 825. Mays believes LAAA is now poised to launch the next phase of the 87-year-old organization's expansion and commitment to Los Angeles' emerging artists. Since joining LAAA in June 2005, Peter has implemented cultural exchanges with Switzerland (Basel), Korea, Germany and China, initiated collaborative programming with institutions like Harvard, MoCA and Otis, as well as with artists Tim Hawkinson and Lita Albuquerque, secured the very best curators to jury LAAA exhibitions, increased LAAA's career development programs and direct services by 30% and created LAAA's public art program which was selected as one of the top public art works completed in 2010 by Americans for the Arts.

Beyond his commitments at LAAA, Mays has curated exhibitions throughout Southern California for various arts, educational and civic agencies. Mays was the recent recipient of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's Creative Economics: Art and Business Partnership award and a past recipient of the Art to Life award sponsored by Art & Living Magazine, Sotheby's International Realty and A&I for his work on behalf of emerging artists and emerging artists communities. As chairperson of the West Hollywood Arts and Culture Commissions Art on the Outside public art effort, Peter leads the city's nationally regarded outdoor public art programming which has been praised in ArtForum and the New York Times. Peter helped to launch the region-wide LA Arts Month effort from 2009-2011 where he served on Planning Committee and the Program Committee. He also serves on LAUSD's National Study Group which is charged with informing the nation's second largest district as it plans the next 10 years of K-12 Arts Education. Peter has co-chaired the Education Committee for the Board of Directors for the MOCA Contemporaries and he remains an active member of many other arts leadership groups including the Fellows of Contemporary Art and the Executive Arts Leaders Forum.

Prior to his appointment to LAAA, Mays served as the Director of Development and Supplementary Educational Services for the Galef Institute, a Los Angeles-based educational non-profit organization. At the Tierra del Sol Foundation in Sunland, California, Peter oversaw an expansive arts program that served the needs of hundreds of developmentally disabled adults. Other relevant experience includes: Chairman of Steering Committee, Community Technology and Discovery Center, Los Angeles; writer, Digital Arts for Young Adults online curriculum; Gallery Director, Clark Gallery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and contributing writer and art critic, Pittsburgh Buzz. Peter has an MFA and is also an experienced curator and artist whose artwork has been exhibited in galleries and museums.

Board of Directors[edit]

Advisory Board[edit]

Notable LAAA Artists[edit]

LAAA has approximately 300 artist members. Through LAAA's exposure to notable curators, gallery directors and collectors, artists have exhibited in prestigious museums, international art fairs and commercial galleries.

  • Mei Xian Qiu has had two solo museum exhibitions in New York City and in Los Angeles. Her work has been shown in Photo LA, Art Platform and at the Ping Pong exhibition during Art Basel and Art Basel Miami. Qiu has been featured in ZOOM Photographic Art Magazine, Fabrik Magazine and Artweek.LA.
  • Meeson Pae Yang's solo exhibitions and projects have been shown internationally and nationally at Galerie Kashya Hildebrand (Zurich, Switzerland), FuXin Gallery (Shanghai, China), ArtHK (Hong Kong, China), ARCO (Madrid, Spain), Contemporary Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey), and LAUNCHLA (Los Angeles, CA). Yang is a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation's California New Visions Award, the Durfee Foundation's ARC award, the Burkhardt Foundation Award, and the Alpay Award. Yang has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, Art Ltd Magazine, Theme Magazine, the Korea Times, and the Los Angeles Times.
  • J.T. Burke worked for 20 years as a nationally recognized advertising photographer and commercial director. In 2010, he mounted his first public exhibition of personal work that was shown in Barcelona Spain, Bristol UK and Santa Barbara, CA. His unique photo digital collage works have been exhibited in galleries and art fairs in New York city and throughout California.
  • Born to Azerbaijani parents in Tehran, Iran in 1984, Marjan Vayghan immigrated to the United States in the Spring of 1995, settling with her family in Los Angeles, California. Marjan continues to live alternately between Teheran and Los Angeles. Her practice is informed by this context of movement and flexible citizenship across both geographical and cultural spaces, and the multiple realities these spaces engender. Vayghan’s solo exhibition at Gallery 825 received wide press and publication, including an interview with the Huffington Post.
  • YaYa Chou has had solo exhibitions at den contemporary art in West Hollywood, Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana, and Gallery 825. Her work was included in group exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, NY, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, VA, and several southern California galleries. She is the recipient of the 2011 Fellowship at the Lucas Artists Residency, Montalvo Arts Center, CA, and twice she was awarded the Durfee Foundation Grant (2010 and 2007). Chou has received several honors and awards for her animated films.
  • The abstract impressionist artist Tommy Hollenstein has exhibited his paintings throughout Southern California and has been featured in LA Weekly, Angeleno and The Scottsdale Tribune. Tommy’s work resides in the personal collections of numerous well known celebrities and art collectors.


Renowned LAAA alumni include:

Notable Donors and Sponsors[edit]

Influence on Los Angeles' Art Scene[edit]

LAAA plays an important role in Los Angeles' artistic ecological system. [ . . .] the members' common accomplishments and diverse artistic voices underpin the success of LAAA as a forum for artistic dialogue, shared exhibition opportunities, and mutual support.

— Samuel Hoi, President, Otis College of Art and Design


LAAA's unique status as a non-profit organization provides flexibility for risk-taking beyond what is possible in the commercial gallery system, thereby positioning the organization as a driver of innovative content in Los Angeles. LAAA serves as both a feeder resource for the larger art community and a highly visible platform that fosters greater awareness for exciting, emerging artists.


LAAA began in 1925 as a civic art institution connecting elite art interests to Hollywood collectors during the Great Depression, later emerging after World War II as the center of artistic modernism in Los Angeles. In 1933, led by key civic leaders William May Garland, Harry Chandler, and UCLA founder Edward Dickson, the former Museum Patrons Association (f. 1925) broke away from the Los Angeles County Museum and reorganized as the Los Angeles Art Association. [. . .] Under the directorship of Helen Wurdemann, the Art in America critic who joined the organization in 1944, the Los Angeles Art Association fought for creative independence and became a critical site for the discussion, promotion, and exhibition of modern art at a historical moment when other local art institutions, and the municipal government, were uninterested or even hostile to the display of abstract or expressionist work. During the period of 1947 to 1951, when the House on Un-American Activities Committee created the Hollywood blacklist and local authorities followed suit with the persecution of Los Angeles artists, the Los Angeles Art Association rallied behind avant-garde painters and sculptors and defended them against accusations of communist activity and subversive intent.

Avant-gardism characterized the Los Angeles Art Association from the beginning. The LAAA featured Man Ray in one of its earliest shows and moved quickly in the 1940s to promote the "hard-edge" abstractionist work of Lorser Feitelson and the postsurrealism of Helen Lundeberg. Feitelson felt that the county museum was neither contemporary enough nor did it offer encouragement to local artists. Together with Lundeberg, they instituted a new leadership for LAAA supporting contemporary local artists, emphasizing individual subjectivity and promoting artistic diversity that, in turn, helped produce the "hard-edge" abstractionist movement, which became fully realized in the post war era. LAAA's early support of the "hard-edge" movement was especially significant in that it brought together the most famous of Los Angeles' postwar abstract painters such as John McLaughlin and Karl Benjamin who, together with Frederick Hammersley and Feitelson, would later be featured in the Los Angeles County Museum's "Four Abstract Classicists," a 1959 show that would bring international acclaim to Los Angeles' modern art scene....It is crucial to an understanding of postwar Los Angeles cultural production to see hard-edge works like Feitelson's "Magical Space Forms" or Benjamin's "Number 27" in the broader context of the Los Angeles' challenging political climate and the role of local institutions like the Los Angeles Art Association in protecting and promoting this modernist movement.

Even more than a space for the display of Los Angeles modernism, the Los Angeles Art Association also served as a dynamic force for arts education, outreach, and community. Between 1953 and 1965, the LAAA represented dozens of artists, many of whom were veterans studying under the GI Bill, patrons and colleagues. In the 1950s, the LAAA brought modern art into Angelenos' living rooms with Feitelson on Art, a popular television show on which Lorser Feitelson featured weekly discussions with local and nationally acclaimed artists and analyzed specific pieces and artistic techniques. By 1960, the Los Angeles Art Association had moved to La Cienega, where it became the cornerstone of the Monday night art-walks, self-guided tours that turned West Hollywood into a hip destination for Los Angelenos interested in art collecting and gallery culture. No history of art in Los Angeles would be complete without an exploration of the Los Angeles Art Association's contributions to building the city into an internationally renowned art center and its pioneering efforts to establish a protected space for the study and display of contemporary and modern art. Since its inception as a civic art institution in the 1920s, LAAA evolved into a nexus for emerging artists of all media. Today, LAAA serves as a dynamic force for contemporary ideas, outreach, and community.

— Sarah Schrank, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, California State University, Long Beach


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Los Angeles Art Association Volume 1. Los Angeles Art Association. 2009. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-615-29962-4. 
  2. ^ Los Angeles Art Association Volume 1. Los Angeles Art Association. 2009. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-615-29962-4.