It's a Friday night and an overflow crowd is jammed into the penthouse of the former May Co. store on Wilshire Boulevard -- now Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) West -- to hear a conversation between French journalist and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik.
Presiding over this abundance of intelligence is Paul Holdengräber, the founder and director of LACMA's Institute for Art and Cultures (IAC). Holdengräber is erudite, worldly, self-deprecating and all the more charming for being so, equal parts Joel Grey in "Cabaret," and Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca."
What is going on at the LA County Museum of Art? The museum's new Institute for Art and Cultures, which convenes painters, poets, artists and performers, writers and thinkers to "address critical issues in the visual arts and culture through rigorous and playful discussions, performances and debates," has landed in our midst and overnight become a central presence. The Institute also happens to be reminding the rest of us that LA Culture exits.