When artist and collector Danny First built his gallery The cabin in the backyard of her Hancock Park home in 2014, her petite stature was part of the appeal. The space, eerily modeled after the hut where terrorist Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) holed up in Montana, is a 10-foot-by-12-foot high-ceilinged structure that, even with its current display of large-scale canvases, scale by figurative painter Gabe Cortese, not to feel cluttered. After seven years, First felt its program – which also includes a month-long artist residency nearby – was ready to expand.
“I feel like I’m giving them a bit more than The Cabin now,” First says of his revamped complex, which now includes a large gallery under his garden, The Bunker, and a large open-air sculpture podium. air which he baptized The Fifth. Basement.
“Even for successful sculptors, it can be difficult for them to exhibit their work,” says First, whose own artistic practice includes bronze and ceramic sculptures of stylized figures. “It’s going to be fun, but also challenging to rig the pieces in the backyard.” He plans to install a new work approximately every six months. The first piece on the plinth, by Nathan Mabry, depicts a bright blue wolf.
Although his gallery is a passion project rather than a business venture, it has helped boost the careers of many young artists. Past exhibits have included Ghanaian sensation Amoako Boafo, conceptual artist Genevieve Gaignard (now exhibiting with Vielmetter Los Angeles), and painter Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, who is now represented by White Cube.
At this time, First has no ambitions to expand further, but it often responds to requests from collectors looking to create their own version of The Cabin. “I get rich people asking me to start their own residences on their properties, and I’m like, ‘Location is really important,'” he says. “It’s huge to be close to art shops, galleries and museums. You can’t put them in a deserted place like Joshua Tree.