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How to make the city shine / What would finally civilize
L.A.?

Keep artists in the picture

December 26, 2007|BY CATHERINE OPIE | Catherine Opie is a fine art photographer and photography professor at UCLA.

Los Angeles has emerged as one of the nation's outstanding arts communities, adding one cultural institution after another: MOCA, the Hammer, the Getty, Disney Hall and now the expansion of LACMA's campus.

But what about the artists?

As an artist, I've always found Los Angeles inspirational, but it is getting harder to live here. Skyrocketing real estate prices and rents have squeezed us out of studios and galleries.

Los Angeles needs to build a space for artists. It would be a brilliant building, a model for other great art cities to follow. Think big: 25,000 square feet or more. A cutting-edge green building with a rooftop garden. Top-of-the-line equipment in all media and flexible spaces for exhibitions or performances. Affordable studios for daily rental.

Allot three-fourths of the studios to local artists selected by a peer panel for yearlong residencies. Use the rest to create a program for international visiting artists. Our city has embraced the arts; it's time for it to embrace its artists.

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