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Wheeling and dealing: Los Angeles galleries move into old car showrooms

By Jori Finkel

It hasn’t been easy for large auto dealers to survive as the industry shifts online, especially in cities like Los Angeles, where commercial real estate is pricey. But where car dealers are packing up shop, art dealers are moving in. Two of the most anticipated new gallery spaces here this season—maybe the busiest yet, thanks to another round of New Yorkers setting down roots on the West Coast—are transformations of historic automobile showrooms.

After 15 years in Culver City, Roberts Projects has taken over a 1948 warehouse near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) at 442 South La Brea Avenue, formerly known as the Max Barish Chrysler-Plymouth showroom. There, it has opened its largest and most flexible space yet: 10,000 sq. ft including galleries, offices and a study room.

Gallery co-founder Julie Roberts says they were looking not just for a bigger footprint but the ability to carve out different types of spaces. “Especially with Betye Saar, Kehinde Wiley and Jeffrey Gibson, we do more than exhibiting works: we publish catalogues, do commissions and work on special projects like catalogues raisonnés and archives,” she says. The space opened on 21 January with a solo exhibition of new paintings by Wiley, Colorful Realm (until 8 April).