In a place as impossibly horizontal as L.A., it’s always nice to see the city’s highly centralized arts institutions leave their sinecures for some guerrilla activities at the fringes. For the first ever Venice Beach Biennial, the folks behind the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial got a crew of more than 50 fine artists to go and set up some stalls amid the outdoor circus that is the Venice Beach boardwalk. I decided to forgo the map that was available at some stalls and just troll the boardwalk in a state of general cluelessness. This way, I could see how good I was at picking out the artsy fartsies from the run-of-the-mill weirdos.
I didn’t get to see everything, unfortunately. (I had a very important fish taco appointment with friends.) But what I did see convinced me that this is something that the city’s institutions should be doing more of: inserting art into the world, in ways that are confusing and disorienting. Most significantly, however, the whole exercise offered the very real convenience of conceptual art and patchouli in a single location — always a winner in my book.