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Everything you need to know about the opening of L.A.'s newest free museum, ICA LA

Written by
Rozette Rago

L.A.'s newest free museum is set to stage its grand opening weekend on September 9 and 10 with a wide range of performances, talks and other activities. 

The Institute for Contemporary Art Los Angeles, or ICA LA, is the new home for the former Santa Monica Museum of Art. The new facility in the Arts District occupies 12,700 square feet of warehouse space.


Its inaugural exhibit will feature the works of Martín Ramírez, an outsider artist who spent much of his life in mental institutions with schizophrenia. Throughout his ordeal, he created a beautiful body of art made up of mostly drawings and collages.

Courtesy Collection of Jim Nutt and Gladys Nilsson. © 2017 The Estate of Martín Ramírez; Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York. Photograph by Tom Van Eynde.

ICA LA will also exhibit an installation by New York artist Abigail DeVille in its Project Room, while L.A.-based artist Sarah Cain will be featured in the museum's courtyard.


On Saturday, September 9, the museum will host guided tours of Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation at 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm. The artist's biographer Victor Espinosa along with ICA LA's executive director and exhibit curator Elsa Longhauser will lead the tours.

At 5pm, Los Jornaleros del Norte (the Day Laborers of the North), a band comprised of musicians from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, will perform songs written about migrant rights and the plight of day laborers.

The conversation about Ramirez continues on to Sunday, September 10 with a panel moderated by Longhauser that features scholars of Latin American art and an expert on the history of Mexican art.

Other Sunday activities include a bilingual storybook reading and bookmaking workshop. The complete list of ICA LA's fall schedule will be available on their website starting September 1. The museum will be open Wednesdays through Fridays, 11am to 7pm; Saturdays and Sundays, 11am to 6pm. Admission to the exhibitions and programs is free.

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