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Museum Visionary Says Art Could Tie in With 101 Firms

Jeff Phillips is convinced that the technology companies along the 101 corridor are producing more than computer hardware; he thinks they may also be a canvas for one of the newest trends in contemporary art. On Jan. 18, Phillips met with the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley’s Livable Communities group to pitch his idea for what he calls the International Museum of the Arts. The museum Phillips envisions would feature work inspired by and created with technology, dubbed “Artech” as its feature attraction. It would be the first major museum in a Valley of 1.7 million people. Tim Alexander, a Santa Monica developer working with Phillips, said that the finished museum product would ideally be in a mixed-use neighborhood where retailers, restaurateurs and other commercial tenants could anchor their businesses with residences built on top of them. Alexander said that after discussing the museum idea with Phillips, the two of them are convinced that the Valley can support the facility. “There’s no question that there are enough people to support a regional, peer-level museum,” said Alexander. Calling this movement the “next step in the evolution of art,” Phillips said that a technological art museum will function as more than just a cutting edge exhibition. It will be a “living laboratory” as well. “It will be a repository on the public’s behalf of whatever there is,” said Phillips. “It will be preserved in time by the museum. This isn’t just about evolving, it’s about capturing.” Alexander and Phillips said that they do not have a site in mind for the museum at the moment, although they are constantly looking for available real estate. Alexander pointed out, however, that his and Phillips’ vision for the Valley’s art scene includes multiple museum sites. “It should be over time a collection of museums, Artech is just one of them,” he said. The Orange Line, which is expected to open in August connecting the Valley from North Hollywood to Woodland Hills, will make it much easier for people who don’t have cars to visit a local art museum, Alexander said. In order to get the money required to build a museum, Phillips is planning to approach Valley tech companies whose technology he said is a medium for cutting edge artists. Phillips said he plans to talk with Amgen, THQ and DTS and other Valley technology companies, to explain his concept and ask for sponsorship. Robert Rodine, co-chair of the meeting, said that before any one can build a museum, someone has to gauge the Valley’s interest in the project. “One of the things you have to look at is the art interest in the greater Los Angeles region,” said Rodine. Rodine suggested that Phillips get a hold of membership directories from other museums to find out whether a large portion of art patrons reside in the Valley. If not, Rodine said Phillips is facing an uphill battle.

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