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BerandaLifestyleEntertainmentHow The Pit Became the Off-the-Beaten-Path LA Gallery Everyone Won’t Stop Talking About

How The Pit Became the Off-the-Beaten-Path LA Gallery Everyone Won’t Stop Talking About

This weekend, ahead of the opening of Frieze Los Angeles on February 29, many of the city’s galleries will be opening new exhibitions, showing off the best work they have to offer. One of those galleries is The Pit, the artist-run space founded by Adam D. Miller and Devon Oder in Glendale that has, over the past decade, established itself as a dependable purveyor of off-kilter exhibitions. coin303

But this Frieze week marks a special kind of opening for The Pit, since the gallery is now preparing to relocate to a 13,000-square-foot industrial building in LA’s Atwater Village neighborhood. Sited at 3015 Dolores Street, a short drive from the original location, the new space will include 8,000 square feet of exhibition space across three galleries, offices, on-site storage, a private viewing room, a ceramics studio for Miller, and, very important, a parking lot.

“When we walked in, both of us were like, this has so much potential,” Oder told ARTnews. “It was perfect for the growth that we want to make.”

Miller added, “it echoes a lot of the original sort of sentiments of the original space.”

Since its founding in 2014, The Pit has always been something of an island unto itself. Glendale is a neighborhood where many artists have their studios, but it’s not exactly a destination for viewing art, since few other galleries are there. Generally, most dealers have opted to instead open up shop in the Downtown Arts District or Hollywood.

But Oder and Miller said they wanted to stay in Northeast Los Angeles, specifically because of their proximity to other artists, which Miller said could be “of more importance or greater value than collectors and people than it might be on the West Side. We started in Glendale; we are exhibiting artists. It would seem odd for us to just pop up on Santa Monica Boulevard on the West Side.”

Exterior of a warehouse building that is painted white with 'The Pit' written in black. in front are desert plants.
The Pit’s new location in Atwater Village.PHOTO LANCE GERBER/COURTESY THE PIT

After getting their MFAs in 2008 from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Miller and Oder worked as studio assistants for artist Sterling Ruby and, in their spare time, began organizing group shows (accompanied by zines) at various venues across the city. They did that for about five years before they considered opening their own space. “We literally ran out of spaces,” Oder said. coin303

They were also inspired by artist Laura Owens, who opened 356 Mission, an artist-run space in Boyle Heights, in 2013; it closed in 2018 after members of the community protested, claiming that the space had played a significant role in gentrifying a historically Latinx neighborhood. (The Pit itself faced similar protests in 2018 from community members who accused it of doing the same in Glendale. Miller and Oder apologized and vowed to “do better” after the outcry.)

“Back then, there were so many preconceived notions of what artists could and couldn’t do,” Miller said. “We had gallerists tell us, ‘No one’s ever going to take you seriously if you curate and you’re an artist.’ I felt like we were going against that by organizing these alternative shows.”

Despite this pushback, Miller and Oder launched The Pit in July 2014 with a group show of eight LA-based artists with studios near the gallery, including Mary Weatherford, Shana Lutker, Mungo Thomson, and Jon Pestoni. Initially, the gallery’s space was a converted garage located in an alley. “We really ended up there by happenstance,” Miller said. “The original space felt like it had this magical presence. It was just very unassuming.” coin303