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6 May, 2019 El Centro | Christopher Schwartz Brings Art and Inspiration to The Gallery @ El Centro

El Centro is providing more than a new collection of Hollywood apartments for rent on the neighborhood’s eponymous Boulevard. Starting this May, The Gallery @ El Centro will be home to a rotating collection of exhibits by local artists focused on highlighting the new and avant-garde. We caught up with Christopher Schwartz, the Gallery’s curator, to learn about his artistic philosophy and what kind of art he plans to bring to El Centro.

“I always want to be a champion of artists and create opportunities for them,” said Schwartz, who began his career in the New York gallery scene before heading west to Los Angeles. He loves to “give art objects a life by showing them in unconventional environments,” a style he pioneered with his recent installation at Michael’s Santa Monica, where he used the restaurant’s history “as an important artist haunt throughout the 80s and 90s” as a starting point to show off work by contemporary artists.

Schwartz jumped at the opportunity when asked to curate The Gallery @ El Centro. “I love the location,” he says, “Hollywood is my favorite neighborhood because it feels quintessentially LA.” He is also inspired by the beauty and design of El Centro itself, especially the landscaping, which features local flora, including numerous species of cacti. “It seems like a really special place to live,” says Schwartz, who is excited to share the Gallery with the building’s residents.

One of the aesthetics that unifies the artists chosen by Schwartz for the Gallery is their penchant for altering the installation space to transform it from a standard white-walled gallery to something unique. For example, Schwartz has already begun to transition the Gallery from “the standard white box” into something a little more Hollywood, complete with “a custom marquee lighting system and a big theater curtain that will be used as a room divider.”

What should visitors expect when they set foot in the Gallery? “Instead of each exhibition being a solitary project, they will be organized into consecutive seasons that explore a unique theme or idea,” Schwartz explains. The first season of exhibits, which will run from May 2019 through February 2020, “will explore the theme of intimacy,” according to Schwartz. The first installation will feature the Argentinian multimedia artist Amalia Ulman, whose works include everything from digitally altered celebrity photos to wire-frame sculpture.

Later in the season, the Gallery will be home to works by sculptor Nevine Mahmoud, whose art blends biological subjects with unusual materials to create surreal stone fruit, such as cherries made from marble. In September, the showcased artist will be another sculptor, Flannery Silva, who fills galleries with paintings, sculptures, light effects, and custom recordings in order to transport viewers into her private world.

Schwartz hopes these exciting artists will inspire visitors to The Gallery @ El Centro to try new things and keep an open mind. When asked how he stays inspired, Schwartz says, “Even if I have expectations or strong opinions about something, I try to set those aside to remain open to a new experience.”

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