Photos: One Of Los Angeles' Raddest (And Most Radical) Art Galleries Is In Exposition Park
Few places are more aptly named than Heart of Art Gallery in Exposition Park. Every inch of the gallery is covered in artwork, from the floor to the ceiling and the front to the back. If you want to sit down, no problem. But the chair you've chosen is likely painted as an especially eclectic artist's canvas might be. No spot is wasted in the self-proclaimed "coolest underground queer art space in town."
"You probably didn't see the sculpture in the back," co-founder Bell said during a recent visit. "You should come check it out."
Indeed. She leads to the back where a man's plastic figure erupts from the ceiling. It's a bust of her friend Enzo, and most of the décor is made from recycled materials.
Everything—from razor blades shellacked onto the toilet to books fastened into the wall, to sculptures emerging from the ceiling—is a surprise. Be on the lookout for the rescued bunny, Mr. Blue, chilling on the back patio. When not spending all of their energy on Heart of Art, co-founders and operators Kenia and Bell devote their time to animal rescue (though only Mr. Blue hangs out at the gallery).
There's nothing conventional about it. Opened in 2012, Kenia and Bell created a place where the walls are open exclusively to women and LGBTQ people. Everyone's welcome in the space, so long as they are respectful. In fact, you'll probably be greeted with a warm hug. But citing long-standing, near-absolute exclusion of women from the arts and societal suppression of queer people, the two women wanted Heart of Art to be a place where the voiceless have a voice and solidarity. They have also devoted wall space to victims of violence against women, including an emotional 'Juarez wall' memorializing the femicides in the Mexican state.
Aside from their activism, they want everyone with artistic inclinations to have safe place to show their work. "We are regular people who wish we had this opportunity so we created it," Kenia said.
They don't ask for a curriculum vitae and portfolio from their artists. If you want to show art for them, just ask. Their space is a testament to following passions and making a place for others to do the same.