INTERVIEW: Brannan Mason Talks About His New DTLA Art Gallery and Its Focus on Social Impact

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Harlem Twins by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut and Samdi
Harlem Twins by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut and Samdi

A new contemporary art gallery, Brannan Mason Gallery, opens south of Cartwheel Art in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District this weekend. The inaugural exhibition, “Cornerstone,” features a series of street portraits taken in New York City by French photographer Etienne Rougery-Herbaut along with new paintings by Haitian artist Samdi. A series of six collaborative works by the two artists will also be on view.

Our new neighbor, Brannan Mason Gallery, has built social impact into its mission. The gallery plans to donate a minimum of 10% of the gallery’s earnings to vetted nonprofit organizations, with donations made in the name of the buyer of each work. Sales from “Cornerstone” will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California in support of the Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The Road from Puerto Rico by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut
The Road from Puerto Rico by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut

Brannan Mason, the gallery’s founder, co-founded the luxury earphone company Noble Audio in 2013. He left the company last May, and after giving some thought to what he’d like to do next, he decided to open a gallery. After initially planning to open the gallery in Santa Barbara, he realized it would be more of a service to the talented contemporary artists he wanted to feature if he brought their work to Los Angeles.

Moving from audio to art came naturally to Mason. He says, “I’m really into the presentation of things, whether it be earphones and thinking of how they’re packaged and things like that, to how art is presented—how it sits on the wall, and the lighting and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s what really attracts me to the art space.”

The gallery’s focus on social impact stems from Mason’s belief that people have a social obligation to give back. He explains, “As it’s been demonstrated in the past several years, we really can’t rely on the government to do a lot of things and get stuff done the way it should be done. I believe it’s the responsibility of businesses and private entities to help contribute something to society. I think that this is a great way for us to do it and support causes that the artists are passionate about.

American Garage by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut
American Garage by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut

For the first show, the gallery wanted to feature emerging artists making accessible work. Mason says, “We’re really just trying to establish ourselves in the art scene here in Los Angeles—and in the world, too, because the works are going to be on Artsy. We’re also breaking these artists. It’s Etienne’s first show outside of France, and it’s Samdi’s first show in the U.S.”

Brannon Mason Gallery also plans to launch a podcast. Mason tells Cartwheel, “We’re giving exhibiting artists a platform to speak freely about their work, their upbringing, and their influences in a manner that they may not otherwise have. The idea is that people who are coming to see the show and are interested in the work will have a chance to listen to the podcast and arrive at the gallery maybe a little bit more informed, because it’s not possible for the artists to devote 30 minutes to talk to everybody who comes to the show.” In addition to featuring artists whose work is showing at the gallery, Mason plans to interview other people who have been instrumental to the gallery’s vision.

Onwards and Upwards by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut and Samdi
Onwards and Upwards by Etienne Rougery-Herbaut and Samdi

Opening Reception:
March 2, 2019 (6 –9 pm) – RSVP here

March 2 – March 30, 2019

Brannan Mason Gallery
1923 S. Santa Fe Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90021 

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