A brash brigade of iconoclastic Angelenos is taking the art world by storm

2nd March 2021, 3:54 pm

From curators to painters, the L.A. art world’s new guard wears the season’s hottest looks

Ulysses De Santi and Graham Steele

Artwork by Tom of Finland and various artists

ULYSSES DE SANTI | Jacket: Emporio Armani | Top: Bombas | Sneakers: Kenneth Cole | Bracelet: Mr. Ettika  GRAHAM STEELE | Jacket and top: COS | Pants: Banana Republic | Boots: Kenneth Cole


Dinners at the art and design-packed Hollywood Hills home of gallery director Graham Steele and his Brazilian-design-dealer husband Ulysses De Santi used to draw a guest list as eclectic and glittering as the decor, from MOCA chief Klaus Bisenbach to Courtney Love. “We love mixing artists, collectors, people from Hollywood, with doctors, lawyers, and architects,” says Steele, who recently departed a high-profile post at Hauser and Wirth to strike out on his own. “We like to open up the way we live our lives.” Vows De Santi: “As soon as COVID is past us, we’ll continue throwing those salons to bring people back together.”

Monique McWilliams and Lauren Halsey

Artwork by Lauren Halsey

MONIQUE MCWILLIAMS | Shirt: Chanel | Pants: Tru2Form | Shoes: Found/vintage LAUREN HALSEY | Top: The Family Clothing | Pants: Kevin Emerson | Shoes: Found/vintage


South Central-born artist Lauren Halsey had just come off a meteoric three-year run—one in which her sculptural environments depicting Black life earned her the $100,000 Mohn Award at the Hammer Museum’s 2018 Made In L.A. biennial—when she signed a lease on a building next door to her Inglewood art studio. The plan was to use the space as a community center. But in the wake of the pandemic, Halsey switched gears and turned the space into a distribution outpost that delivered more than 19,000 boxes of produce to feed more than 100,000 residents of South Central. Helping head up the effort was Halsey’s girlfriend, Monique McWilliams, who left her popular vintage-clothing business, relaunching this year as Tru2Form, to serve as her aide de camp. “We’re exhausted,” says Halsey. “But this work re-energizes me.”

Melahn Frierson ◍ Jess Valice ◍ Morgan Elder and Allison Littrell  ◍ Jennifer Rochlin ◍ Nicolette Mishkan and Ben Lee Ritchie Handler ◍ Terrell Tilford

Styled by Star Burleigh  Produced by Richard Villani  Photographed by Magnus Unnar



Published: 2nd March 2021

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