We had the good fortune of connecting with Luciana Abait and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Luciana, what inspires you?
My artworks are inspired by the environment that surrounds me. While living in Miami, the ubiquitous water and blue skies of the city led me to create multiple bodies of work that depict these elements of nature in their pure form. My “Underwater” series originated then, and it explores the fascinating architectural landscapes found underwater in swimming pools. When I moved to Los Angeles fifteen years ago, I encountered its own unique vegetation, mountainous areas, deserts and snow. All these elements produced a big impact on my art practice as they started becoming the main themes of my work. California’s strong commitment to environmental issues has strongly influenced my works as well. The “Mixed Nature” series presents lush vegetation while I play with the human scale in relation to nature. In my “Iceberg” series, the pieces show icebergs in surreal landscapes under stunning sunsets, starry skies, or crispy blue ones. I want these to bring spectators a moment of respite and remind them of the beauty and grandiosity of nature. I’m not only inspired by nature’s perfection and its endangered state, but also its related social issues. Most of my works intertwine these subjects as I deal with themes of human displacement, assimilation, isolation and adaptation. This can be seen in my large-scale, immersive installation “Off The Map”, which is comprised of maps of the world that create mountains symbolizing the restricted territories for many populations. My work is intentionally visually enticing since I want to attract spectators to them and start a fluid dialogue about these issues.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am strongly committed to creating art that celebrates nature while raising awareness of environmental and social issues. Currently, my exhibition “A Letter to the Future” is on view at the Los Angeles International Airport in Terminal 7. I am so thrilled about this exhibit, which can be viewed by thousands of people a day as they travel. Throughout my career, I have completed numerous indoor and outdoor large-scale public art projects, urban interventions and Art in Public Places commissions. At present, I am really interested in creating more public art in this city, both temporary and permanent. I am strongly convinced that art CAN make a difference in people’s lives. Art is life, art can heal and transform us and it can become a moral compass through times like these. Art connects us to humanity.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
DAY 1 BRENTWOOD
Breakfast: Tavern on San Vicente Blvd. Midmorning/
Lunch: Brentwood Mart Visit all the small boutiques and Diesel, A Book Store. Have coffee and mini alfajores at Café Luxxe. Lunch at Farmshop or buy food at Frida or Barneys and eat it on the outdoor tables in the open-air courtyard. Hudson Grace is a beautiful store where you can buy flowers, candles and homewares. The post office always carries limited edition goods by local designers, European goods, etc.
Afternoon: Getty Museum: A must. Breathtaking architecture, landscaping, exhibitions and views of the city.
Dinner: Jon & Vinny’s, Brentwood
DAY 2 BEVERLY HILLS
Breakfast: La Colombe Coffee Roasters Drive or Walk down Rodeo Drive. If you visit LA, you need to cross it off your list.
Lunch or drinks at The Rooftop by JG in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Fabulous 360-degree views of the city. Or head directly to WEST HOLLYWOOD Lunch: Gracias Madre, delicious vegan and organic Mexican food. Super chic space. Just a few blocks, start strolling on Melrose Avenue, from N. San Vicente Boulevard to Fairfax. Cool designer stores, cafes, restaurants. Great vibe. Walk down Melrose Place: the most exquisite boutiques like The Row, L’Agence, Isabel Marant. Alfred Coffee is a must. Go back to Melrose Blvd. Kelly Wearstler: luxury boutique, furniture and décor is among my favorites. There’s so much more to see, many upscale designer stores. Drive further East and visit the art galleries Regen Projects, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and Jeffrey Deitch. Griffith Park Observatory. Beautiful views of LA. Incredible architecture. You can actually get a selfie with the Hollywood sign right behind you. If you are in the mood for hiking: Firebreak Trail, among others in the area.
Dinner: options: The traditional Pizzeria Mozza. If you are in the mood for steak, drive on Melrose to the Argentinean restaurant Lala’s. I am from Argentina. I can guarantee it’s authentic Argentinean style steak and food. Try the Chimichurri and bread as you get seated at the table! Papas Fritas a la Provenzal (French fries with garlic and parsley, another staple), are a delicious side for a steak. Dessert: panqueques con dulce de leche (dulce de leche crepes). Republique restaurant, if modern French plates are preferred.
DAY 3 SANTA MONICA:
Breakfast: Tartine is a new spot for breakfast, lunch, coffee, pastries, etc. Head to Main Street with small boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Library Alehouse has a dining area in the back and very good food. Mohawk, on Main Street, clothes boutique. Best selection of local, European and Asian designers. Drive down Pacific Avenue and see the Ocean.
Lunch: If you actually want to eat on the beach, then, join the locals and head to Back on the Beach Cafe at the Annenberg Community Beach House. If you are looking for a local, inexpensive, family owned restaurant, then, drive to Tacos por Favor, Mexican restaurant, on Olympic Blvd. Blueys Kitchen and Market is a great option if you are looking for a cool surfer outdoor atmosphere. If you want a “New England” vibe, then go to Coast, on Shutters on the Beach Hotel and have lunch overlooking the Santa Monica Beach and the pier. Visit Bergamot Station, a creative arts complex with more than 30 galleries. Building Bridges Art Exchange is the best one there. It offers exhibitions from around the world, artist residencies, educational workshops and lectures. Next, go to 18 th Street Arts Center, where my studio is located! It has two campuses with a strong exhibitions program showing work by international and local artists. More than 60 artists have their studios within its two campuses. Its main mission is to provoke public dialogue through contemporary art making. Coffee Break: 18th Street Coffee House, relaxed coffee house with a charming patio. Still trying to find out if Bob Dylan owns it! Dinner: Proper Hotel Santa Monica, sophisticated, artfully designed hotel. Unique experience.
DAY 4 VENICE
Breakfast: Gjusta: coffee, pastries, smoked salmon, delicious sandwiches. I take most of my out of town guests there. They have all fallen in love with it! The gift shop one door down offers one of a kind pieces and great ceramics. Abbot Kinney: stroll through blocks of hip and trendy boutiques. My favorites: Heist, best selection of clothes and accessories. Burro: gifts and accessories. Coffee Breaks on Abbot Kinney: Intelliigentsia Coffee/ Blue Bottle Coffee Just around the corner, on Venice Blvd, you will find Erewhon – a quintessential California market experience. Lunch: Superba Restaurant, on Lincoln Boulevard. Check out some cool boutiques around that area on Lincoln Blvd (The Linc) such as Bassike, CP Shades, Apiece Apart, General Store, etc. Stroll through the Venice Canals: Idyllic and charming houses, ducklings and arching pedestrian bridges. Lots of photo and selfie opportunities. Then, head to L.A. Louver art gallery, just one block from the beach. Its exhibitions are formidable. After that, just enjoy the beach! Dinner: Salt Restaurant in Marina del Rey. Dine with marina views watching the sunset.
DAY 5 MALIBU Drive South on the PCH. Enjoy the views. Breakfast: Malibu Country Mart: boutiques, designer stores, home décor, cafes, restaurants. Lunch: Malibu Farm Restaurant (on the Malibu Pier). Have a delicious farm-to-table lunch, great ambiance with an ocean view. Drive up to Zuma Beach. See the sunset or Dinner: If there’s still time, you can drive to Agoura Hills, there’s a restaurant “The Old Place” that takes you back in time to the Gold Rush era. Cornell Winery and Tasting Room is right next door. A unique experience.
DAY 6 DOWNTOWN LA Visit MOCA Museum Take the Angels Flight, a fun little train you can ride. It takes you a block down. Lunch: Grand Central Market. Cross the street and check out the historic Bradbury Building. Check out The Last Bookstore. It has a unique book tunnel that you can walk through and an old vault that houses crime novels. Tour Hauser& Wirth Gallery. Impressive and unforgettable exhibitions. It has a restaurant, Manuela, a gift shop and bookstore. Visit Row DTLA – a complex of historic structures transformed into amazing designer boutiques, furniture stores, bars, restaurants and office spaces. Have a stroll for a couple of hours. Dover Street Market, fashion concept store in an industrial brick building. Coffee Break: Zinc Café and Market (on Mateo Street) then The Broad Museum (Reserve tickets in advance online) The Walt Disney Concert Hall. Check out the architecture. Dinner: Otium Restaurant (at Broad Museum) Drinks : Ace Hotel, day or night, at the Rooftop. Unbelievable views of the city! The décor is a feast for the eyes. Additional favorite restaurants in DTLA: Bavel and Bestia.
DAY 7 PACIFIC PALISADES Palisades Village – stroll through curated boutiques, restaurants, ice-cream stores. Lunch: The Draycott (in Palisades Village) or Café Vida- across from there- small boutiques to discover all around. If you are looking for a beautiful place to meditate: Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. A serene and magical place that is open to the public. Hike: Los Liones Trail. Fairly easy but wear appropriate shoes. Then, drive East to WESTWOOD Visit the Hammer Museum, to see works from its permanent collection and edgy contemporary art. Performance Check out UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) for their season’s program. If something is playing, get tickets. It presents acclaimed artists who create extraordinary work in the dedicated practices of contemporary dance, theater and music, in addition to emerging genres. Dinner: Sunnin, casual Lebanese food in Westwood or drive to Sawtelle Japantown (8 minutes) and go to Furaibo, one of my favorite restaurants in LA, where they serve Japanese tapas. Don’t miss the Hanpen Cheese!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many! Some of these are: Oolite Arts (formerly Art Center South Florida), Miami: I was a resident artist of this institution while I lived in Miami. They gave me so much support at the beginning of my professional art career. Jean Albano Gallery, Chicago: this prestigious gallery gave me my first solo exhibition in 2001. We are still working together. 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica: I am currently a resident artist at this institution and it allows me to have a physical and mental space to create and to carry out my ideas, and it supports me in so many different aspects of my art practice. It is my anchor in LA. Building Bridges Art Exchange and its Executive Director Marisa Caichiolo, Santa Monica: In the summer of 2018, they gave me an artist residency during which I created my largest immersive installation to date. Marisa Caichiolo’s guidance has taken me to new creative and conceptual territories that I am still exploring now. California Museum of Art, Thousand Oaks: They were the first institution to exhibit my “Iceberg” series. Many opportunities followed. Erika Hirugami and Curatorlove, Los Angeles: They have been creating fantastic opportunities for my artwork including exhibitions and placing it in prestigious collections. Hote Gallery, Los Angeles: This gallery has a profound commitment to environmental issues and has been a strong supporter of my work through its exhibitions and aquisitions program. Sarah Griffin for incluiding me in her upcoming project UNREPD in West Hollywood. Sarah Cifarelli and Tim McGowan from Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and Ligeia Gorre from The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA): I have been able to carry out my dream exhibitions at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) since 2011 thanks to their vision, support and guidance. Alison Woods, curator and artist, Los Angeles: She recently invited me to be part of “We are Here/Here we Are”, presented by Durden and Ray Gallery. This public outdoor exhibition − organized all across Los Angeles while respecting social distancing guidelines − will be of historic relevance. My artist friends Rakel Bernie, Karina Chechik, Carolina Sardi, Anita Calderon, Pablo Contrisciani and Daniel Fiorda: They have always given me the best advice.
Panic Studios LA, The Billboard Creative