Car, shed … elevator? The Los Angeles art spaces proving smaller is better

Ireceive the text telling me my car was downstairs. Outside waiting for me there’s a metallic gray Ford Crown Victoria, the workhorse American automobile often used as cops cars or taxis. But this is no ride-sharing vehicle like a Lyft or an Uber – it’s a mobile art space, Gallery1993. Scattered throughout the car are objects created by artist Tita Cicognani for her current exhibition, Your Ground. In the footwell opposite me, a ceramic figure of a fork-tongued demon sat atop a custom floor mat adorned with flames, a whimsical, vehicular vision of hell.

As we take a meandering drive around the picturesque Los Angeles neighborhood of Angelino Heights, I discuss the gallery’s concept with Seymour Polatin, my driver and Gallery1993’s founder. Polatin started the project two years ago in Boston in another Crown Vic, this one from 1993 (also the year he was born), as way to explore ideas about the public’s access to and experience of art. “The line between private and public is getting so blurred, people showing their private collections to the public, and the car is part of the conversation,” he says. “I’m interested in opening up how people view exhibitions.”

A few times a week, Polatin will drive to someone’s house and pick them up for a roving viewing and conversation about the current show. “I like the idea of someone being able to walk out of their house and into an exhibition space,” he says. With no set route or time limit, he tailors each ride to the individual passenger. “It’s up to me to gauge the conversation well enough so people get the full experience, but not so they feel trapped,” he notes. “It becomes social practice.”

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