The vibrant sounds of a party echo around the lower level of Grand Avenue as you approach The Broad Museum, Downtown LA’s trendiest new addition to the modern art scene.
The sound of filtered kick drums and the hum of a hundred conversations greet you as the building comes into view, surreal, like an oblong spaceship made of egg shells.
A few steps further and you’re bouncing around to warm House grooves that sweat like a 90s warehouse party while feeling fresh and dynamic — an impressive feat performed with ease by JD Samson.
Amidst the booming kicks and soulful disco vocals, you find the attendees split into two categories — the young and trendy vape-toting dancers clad in clean streetwear or exotic irony while the older, stone-faced museum crowd stand in the back, impeccably dressed, sipping on merlot and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes.
While the party raged on outside, things got interesting indoors, where a dark and claustrophobic escalator opened up into the bright white and wide gallery on the third floor.
The expansive, open floor plan was complimented by the modern sonic synthscapes of Kid 606, who’s wordless tunes worked wonderfully with the wall-to-wall exhibits of ironic, colossal sculptures and psychedelic street art from some postmodern dystopia.
Of course, the sheer size of some of the pieces acted more as a Snapchat attraction than a piece of art, but thankfully, many of the attendees were dressed as if they belonged on the walls, turning one’s peripheral vision into an exciting blur of patterns and color.
The deeper you explored the third floor, the more you began to appreciate The Broad as a serious contender in the world of modern art.
Turn a corner and you’re smacked in the face with Basquiat, stumble into the next room to find Andy Warhol nightmares before getting lost in the comic-book world of Lichtenstein.
After being overwhelmed by polished concrete and rows of priceless canvas and clay, the night air was a relief, enhanced by the glitchy, high-energy madness of Sophie, who combined relentless beats with quasi-acid bass lines and pitch-shifted J-Pop vocals, resulting in a manic sugar rush with an amphetamine edge.
The uptempo insanity continued in the upstairs gallery with a vicious set from Lauren Bousfield, while those seeking refuge and relaxation found exactly that in The Oculus Hall, where Julianna Barwick and visual artist Charles Atlas prepared their transcendental set which merged ambient vocal loops and experimental video manipulations.
The piece was as haunting as it was beautiful, as ethereal as it was violent, pairing washed-out wordless layers of whale song and tinkling pianos with looping clips of old movies, modern dance and flashes of war, sports, life, death, traffic and flowers.
It was here that the merging of live performance and the museum setting became the most pronounced, as the audio/visual experience echoed the works on the walls; abstract and open to interpretation without losing the ability to make a pointed statement.
A healthy round of applause must be given to The Broad and the organizers of the Nonobject(ive) Summer Happenings for offering up a ton of talent while breathing a sense of life, fun, music and dance into the often hallowed, library-like halls of museums.
Suddenly, the museum became an animated social experience, allowing for a much different approach to the art than the usual silent-scholars-on-date-night vibe museums are known for.
While this was exciting, events like this encourage a certain impatience, similar to a music festival. There’s always a “grass is always greener” mentality which pushes patrons from stage to stage, canvas to canvas in order to see it all.
The ironic result of this is that you never get to capture the full experience of any one artist or exhibition.
Of course, this is a minor gripe, as the Summer Happenings aren’t a replacement for regular museums visits or live concerts, but a refreshing and fun way to celebrate art with friends and freaks alike.
If, while there, you decide you need some deeper one-on-one time with the exhibits, The Broad generously offers free admission, though space is limited so reservations are a must.
With its impressive collection and close proximity to some of the best clubs, theaters, food and culture in DTLA, there’s no excuse not to go, especially since the Metro picks up just a few blocks away, helping you avoid the hassles of traffic and pricey parking lots.
We visited Nonobject(ive): Summer Happenings at LA’s The Broad on September 24.