Artist Max Hooper Schneider on Los Angeles’ hidden gems

The backlot of Paramount Pictures Studios
(Image credit: press)

Max Hooper Schneider is an artist of multifarious interests. Having formally trained in biology, urban design and landscape architecture, Schneider has channelled his academic pursuits into dystopian dioramas and sci fi-esque terrariums and aquariums teeming with organic and synthetic artefacts.

The sculptor is set to have his first solo museum exhibition at Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum in June 2019 but before that, Schneider will debut a new installation at Frieze Los Angeles (14 – 17 February) as part of Frieze Projects. Female Odobenid (2019) is the cumulation of Schneider’s ongoing exploration of evolution and ‘a potential future in which humans and animals become one’. We asked Schneider – a bonafide Angeleno – to take us off the city’s well-trodden paths. Here, in his own words, are five of his favourite Los Angeles gems.

The sculptor is set to have his first solo museum exhibition at Los Angeles

Utopia, 2018, by Max Hooper Schneider, resin cast landscape, HO scale model train, custom metal base. Installation view of ‘Tryouts for the Human Race’ at Jenny’s, Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist and Jenny’s, Los Angeles

(Image credit: Michael Underwood)

Museum of Jurassic Technology, Culver City
‘Wonder and enchantment are sensations that are harder and harder to come by, especially in Los Angeles’ chaparral landscape of aspirational pricing and misguided technophilia. Before there was augmented reality there was the Museum of Jurassic Technology. This institution, to poach the words of art historian Barbara Stafford, ‘demonstrates the antiquity of today’s mediated world’ and is quietly replete with micro-miniatures, phantasmagorical optical instruments, dogs of the Soviet space programme, trailer park dioramas and a myriad of other sense-enhancing technologies. Think Wunderkammer refashioned as zoo of the self-taught artist. Absolutely essential (and also next door to the equally relevant Center for Land Use Interpretation).’

9341 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232; tel: 1.310 836 6131;

Jenny’s, Silver Lake
‘Probably the least complacent gallery in Los Angeles. A pendulum between discursive acumen and savage play. Dealers Mathew Sova and Jenny Borland are constantly reimagining their discreet Sunset Boulevard outpost with an intrepidly unpredictable mix of local, European, east coast, famous, unknown, young, old and marginalised artists. There is no algorithm for the gallery’s success and this again proves that true originality has no price tag. During Frieze week visitors can look forward to the tearaway blastings of the mighty Mathieu Malouf.’

4220 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90029; tel: 1.323 741 8237;
Dark Realm Records, Downey
‘Hidden in the exurbs of southeast Los Angeles – or else known as The Gateway Cities region – lies Dark Realm Records, a diehard mainstay for the southern Californian metalhead community for over 20 years. This shop exists as the antonym to the word ‘poser’ and is run by the seminal death metal band Sadistic Intent. This store specialises in CDs (used and new), out of print vinyl, black metal demo cassettes and official and unofficially licensed band merch. It also carries party essentials such as bullet belts and incense. I go there for sleeveless shirts and pewter pendants. The shopkeepers could not be friendlier, and visitors are always welcome to kick off their hi-tops and share a six-pack, talk about the 1990s, post show flyers, or even start a band.’

12149 Downey Avenue, Downey, CA 90242; tel: 1.562 923 2599
Hidden Treasures, Topanga
‘A vintage clothing and kitsch curio outpost nestled deep in Topanga Canyon. It is always replenishing its wares and you are guaranteed to find something that will make you the peacock of the party and/or amuse, disturb, befuddle your friends. It is best to come here when your decision-making faculties have been compromised by a hangover. Here you can experience, I dare say, the rush of finding a bargain among dusty sea monster props, colourfully xeriscaped gardens, and unidentifiable matter. They have a particular abundance of leather jackets, mohair vests, women’s sweaters – the last time I was there I found myself trying to haggle for chainmail leggings. My Looney Tunes-themed biker jacket came from here. This is what the Rose Bowl swap meet in Pasadena used to feel like.’

154 S Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Topanga, CA 90290; tel: 1.310 455 2998;
The Brentwood Restaurant and Lounge, Brentwood
‘Most, if not all of the stereotypes surrounding Brentwood are true: affluent nuclear families, scantily clad joggers on San Vicente and the first wave proto-Paleo bistros in the nation. In as much as Los Angeles is known for its heterogeneity, it is also known for its indefatigably predictable environs. One must possess a Cronenbergian dark humour to savour either. The Brentwood Restaurant and Lounge is consistently the darkest bar in Los Angeles. You will always become imbued with an aphotic confidence upon entry. It celebrates an absence of youth culture and promotes heavy drinking. Come here after you’ve attended to family duties or finished a decompression yoga class or broke even off-track betting. The ambience is local and clandestine, if not scandalous. If you can sift through the faux-Noguchi sculptures and matrices of angles being worked, dive into a ground chicken burger (with extra ketchup) and one of their violently potent martinis, a pairing sure to combat art fair malaise.’

148 S Barrington Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90049; tel: 1.310 476 3511;