Feedback: Heated opposition plus a few strong defenders of LACMA's expansion plan

November 24, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

Dolly’s reach

In her profile of Dolly Parton [“Here to Lift You Up,” Nov. 17], Meredith Blake writes that Parton is “a figure beloved in equal measure by drag queens and devout Christians.”

I wish the media would stop using “devout Christians” as a synonym for “evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.” A person can be a highly devout Christian and also a drag queen.

Certainly, not many mainline, nonfundamentalist Christians are also drag queens, many are LGBTQ supportive.

Rachel Howard
Nevada City, Calif.

LACMA plan: Love it, hate it

Regarding Christopher Knight’s column “LACMA Has No One Else to Blame” [Nov. 14]: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art does have someone to blame: Director Michael Govan, who over the years has squandered LACMA’s resources by not having the foresight of what a great museum’s destiny should be.

Mies van der Rohe’s saying “less is more” does apply to art, but in the museum’s case, it should read, “Less is less.” What a colossal waste of resources.

Adam Mekler


As director of the MCA San Diego from 1983 to 2016 and president of the Assn. of Art Museum Directors from 1998 to 1999, I’ve had a ringside seat observing the impressive growth of art museums in Los Angeles over the last three and a half decades.

I’ve also grown tired of reading Knight’s criticism of Govan and the planned expansion of LACMA. As a museum professional, I applaud the selection of Pritzker prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor and will welcome his dramatically contemporary replacement of most of the museum’s lackluster East campus.

Knight is obsessed by the thought of the permanent collection being presented in “theme exhibitions” rather than old school, rote chronological and geographical review.

Knight’s histrionic imploring to abandon the project seems purely ad hominem rather than pro culture in Los Angeles. Govan is arguably the most visionary art museum director of his generation, and I trust and enthusiastically support his daring vision for the new LACMA.

Hugh M. Davies
San Diego


Knight is too kind in his assessment of the cause of LACMA’s fundraising problem for the new building. Breaking up the collection, reducing the size of the museum and covering the entire campus and Wilshire Boulevard with a limp organ propped up on stilts is not a project any intelligent donor would want to have their name on.

Our county supervisors should show some real leadership and halt this disaster now.

John Sherwood


Why on earth would anyone want to build a museum over the most hated thing in L.A.: traffic? And wait. What? You are spending $700 million on a smaller building?! Will I be able to visit my favorite Picasso. Cézanne, Singer Sargent and Rivera? Or will I have to go to a satellite museum in Springfield to view my favorites because there won’t be any room at LACMA anymore?

Go ahead, one-percenters, enjoy your museum.

Chris Armstrong
Los Angeles


Fundraising for LACMA’s new — and smaller — Wilshire campus and overall scheme to parcel out its collections to parts unknown throughout the county has stalled out.

Let’s be honest. When the LACMA leadership decides what collection will go where, who other than the people in the community to which they’ve assigned that collection is going to go see it? The architect for this “Well-it-sounded-good-at-the-celebrity-studded-cocktail-party” idea is not an Angeleno. He doesn’t know how difficult it is to get from one place to another within one’s own city, let alone from one city to the next. I might really want to go see Exhibit X in Cerritos, say; but that’s a long drive there and back for what for me would be about 90 minutes of art viewing at best. I’d probably just Google the art on view, read up on it and avoid the drive.

Paul Crehan
Los Angeles


Thank you again to Knight for sounding the alarm on LACMA’s horrendous redesign. How can the county justify giving all that prime real estate to this low-slung, ink-smear, squashed-fly of a design? I’d much rather see them build a couple of beautiful multistory structures, give the museum as many floors as it could ever need and open the rest to affordable housing.

Joel Ronkin
Los Angeles


I am writing to offer a different point of view on the new LACMA building. As a longtime member, I have watched the museum evolve with a rapidly changing Los Angeles and believe in Govan’s vision to open up LACMA to L.A.’s neighborhoods. I disagree with the comment about an “ill-defined scheme for future satellite facilities.” Both the Vincent Price Art Museum in Monterey Park and Charles White Elementary School in Los Angeles have hosted LACMA exhibits recently. What is wrong with taking great art out of the building and bringing it into the neighborhoods?

Karen Hayes
Santa Monica


Unlike New York’s MoMA, which recently opened its new 40,000-square-foot addition (built for $450 million), LACMA is going to pay $650 million (and probably more) to lose 53,000 square feet of gallery space.

A competent, professional board would have altered its course years ago, but it did not, and we are left with this boondoggle of a plan for a museum that could have — and should have — been built and open by now. Thirteen years to design a very expensive, one-story blob-shaped building that is still years away from groundbreaking, let alone opening, is more than unacceptable, it is outrageous.

Victoria Dailey
Los Angeles


Whether Knight is right or wrong about LACMA’s new building project (and I largely agree with him), by his position as a critic for the main home-town newspaper and the top-of-the-page posting of this latest hyperbolic bellow, the result sadly rings of old-fashioned bullying.

The power of the press on display, for better or for worse.

David Weaver
San Juan Capistrano


Actions speak louder than words. Apparently major donors are not making contributions because of concerns about the unsightly and ill thought out plans for the new museum space. I hope that this reticence will encourage museum leadership to take another look to ensure a remodeled museum that enhances the community rather than distracts.

Ann C. Hayman


This is a grossly underfunded project doomed to fail. And yet plans move forward to demolish the existing, still useful museum buildings. Just last week, a City Council committee approved the air rights needed if the new building is to bridge Wilshire Boulevard.

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We, of the nonprofit Save LACMA, believe the museum’s ill-conceived project (a publicly owned building built on publicly owned land to house a publicly owned collection) is not in our community’s best interest. Spending at least $300 million in public funds, a portion of which could be better used elsewhere, is neither wise nor prudent.

We urge LACMA’s board of trustees, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the City Council to withhold these funds, permits and approvals and pause this project until LACMA presents a much more viable plan.

In the interim, the museum should reopen its galleries, turn on the lights, unpack the art and showcase the public’s world-class encyclopedic collection.

Rob Hollman,
Valley Village

Winning review of winning film

In his review of “Ford v Ferrari” [“All Cylinders,” Nov. 15], Kenneth Turan wonderfully captures the film’s dynamics as well as the relationships among the individuals involved in the story. I was moved to tears. Not by the racing, but by the conflict between those with vision and skill versus the disconnected and self-interested power brokers.

John Dishon
San Diego