Harry and I were out for a lunch date and driving down Sepulveda Boulevard in El Segundo. I saw a banner with ESMOA on it. Huh? I said to Harry, "I wonder if it means 'El Seguno Museum of Art?'" I was baffled. A museum in El Segundo? A Chevron refinery, yeah, but a museum? Happily, it is a museum and we've added it to our list of favorite small local museums and galleries that we love to visit in and around Los Angeles.
ESMOA is privately owned by collectors Brian and Eva Sweeny, a 2,000-square-foot space dedicated to bringing art to the city and to help schools. You can read an wonderful article by Jori Finkel about them at the Los Angeles Times website.
"...the small space has big ambitions to bring visual art to a town better known for its Chevron refinery and its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport. The first show, drawn primarily from the Sweeneys' collection, features 19th century greats like Corot and Gustave Courbet mixed with more recent work by Christo, Andreas Gursky and young German artists," said the LA Times article.
With an emphasis on arts education, they have installed iPads throughout the space. Each displays a numbered grid corresponding to numbers next to the artwork. Pressing each number reveals information about the piece, and a place for comments that are fascinating to read.
The space is light and bright, with burnished concrete blocks for the walls and solar tubes as lights. The Sweeneys' own about 400 works, and they feature other art as well, so the ever-changing exhibits are wonderful. There is a range of works from different periods, and an educator on hand to answer questions and encourage exploration. The day we were there, Lara Miller (one of their Education Specialists) was a warm, enthusiastic, and knew lots about the art. She had samples of pieces of berry vine from one of the pieces, and the children who were visiting were enthralled with her explanations and stories.
Do visit if you're in the area!