After twenty years in Santa Monica, veteran gallerist Rosamund Felsen is packing up and heading east. An email statement sent by the gallery last week announced their plans to relocate to 1923 South Santa Fe Ave. next month. They will be sharing the building with CB1 Gallery, who moved there in January after five years in downtown LA’s historic core.
Felsen opened her first gallery in 1978, in a space on La Cienega formerly occupied by Riko Mizuno and later mega-dealer Larry Gagosian. She then moved the gallery to West Hollywood, before becoming one of the first tenants at the now beleaguered Bergamot Station arts complex when it opened in 1994. A number of LA’s most influential artists had some of their first shows with her, including Jason Rhoades, Mike Kelley, and Lari Pittman.
Despite being an established fixture of the West side art scene, Felsen has no qualms about leaving. “I’m very excited about the move,” she told me when I spoke to her earlier this week. “I had been wanting to move for quite a while.” She originally had her eye on a large building in Frogtown that she would have needed to share, but had trouble convincing other galleries to sign on. Meanwhile, friend and gallerist Clyde Beswick of CB1 Gallery showed her the building that he was about to move into. “I thought, ‘what do I want to be down there for?’ As time went on, it started to look better and better,” she said.
Indeed, over the past couple of years, this gritty industrial area has rapidly become one of LA’s hottest gallery districts. “From Washington to 3rd, and a block or so in either direction off Santa Fe, there are probably 14 or 15 galleries now,” Beswick told me. “Cirrus just moved down the street. Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel are moving here next year,” joining nearby spaces François Ghebaly Gallery, Night Gallery, The Box, and The Mistake Room, among others.
Behind the building’s drab brown, concrete façade sits a completely remodeled, modern space with high ceilings, skylights, and an exposed wooden ceiling. Felsen’s gallery will be about 3400 square feet, just shy of the 3600 at her Santa Monica location. When I asked her which cutting edge architect she picked for the job she replied, “I designed it. This is my fourth gallery. I know how to design a gallery. The simpler, the better.”
Felsen plans to open sometime in April with an exhibition of colorful geometric paintings by Kim MacConnel. She doesn’t think she’ll have trouble attracting her west side clients, citing the critical mass of galleries, the plethora of new restaurants downtown and mid-day drive time of 20 minutes from Santa Monica. As for how she feels being the new kid on the block after years across town, she laughed and said, “Isn’t that funny? I think its great. To me change is growth.”
also by Matt Stromberg
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