Los Angeles has always been known as a hub for creativity, but over the last ten years, the city has evolved into an undeniable home for bold and innovative visual artists. The world is taking note of artists that call L.A. home, and these talented creators, both natives and transplants, are pushing Southern California’s art scene into its most exciting era yet.
Even though he’s not yet 30, L.A.-born painter and sculptor Mario Ayala has already presented his artwork in Belgium, Sweden, and in multiple galleries throughout San Francisco. A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, Ayala’s work honors the Latinx influence on American pop culture and highlights current social issues via layered, vivid airbrush paintings. Ayala’s work takes inspiration from the painted lowrider tradition made famous by young Chicanos living in East L.A., and the artist proudly uses auto-body painting techniques in a way that is familiar to those that know the art form, but with a style that is distinctly his own.
The surreal artwork of Hannah Greely aims to elevate the mundane, as the Tennessee-born artist approaches everyday objects and scenarios with creativity and humor. Greely’s installation High and Dry was a favorite during the inaugural Frieze Los Angeles art fair in 2019, and featured cartoon-like paintings of clothing, clouds, and objects suspended in the air between buildings across Paramount Studios’ backlot. A veteran of the Venice Biennial and the Whitney Biennial, Greely’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in Thailand, Norway, Vienna, Brazil, Switzerland, and Athens.
Pieces and installations by Nikita Gale are always powerful mixed-media explorations of topics like social injustice, economics, and policy. Gale employs architectural elements to ground her work, while weaving in audio, graphics, and/or video to add depth to her often site-specific creations. A Yale University graduate who holds a BA in Anthropology and an MFA in New Genres from UCLA, Gale participated in the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. 2018 biennial and closed out 2019 with a solo show called EASY LISTENING at UT Austin Visual Art Center.
Monica Perez has only been a professional artist for a few years, but you’d never know by looking at the bold, monochromatic abstract paintings that have become the Uruguay-born artist’s signature style. Before she became a full-time artist, Perez worked as a graphic designer and creative director. In just two years she has displayed her work at The Other Fair’s London, Southern California, and New York shows, and she recently participated in The Next Generation Showcase held during 2019’s Art Basel. Work by Perez is available via original paintings, affordable prints, and even tote bags, and she’s already presented her first show of 2020 at Culver City’s Bruce Lurie Gallery.
We’re continually inspired by the creative energy of Downtown Los Angeles. For local recommendations—and to hear from the diverse individuals who make DTLA what it is today—head to our Meet You Downtown blog.