Article in the Los Angeles Times! / by Cynthia Minet

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Minet and Agsten during their recent "Office Hours" session. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) 

The museum director will see you now: 'Office Hours' at DTLA's new Main

By DEBORAH VANKIN

NOV 29, 2017 | 7:00 AM
Office hours are in session. And there are cookies.

Allison Agsten, director of the Main Museum, sits patiently at a glass bistro table in a historic former bank building downtown. The lobby, with its polished tile floor and soaring ceiling, is being renovated into the Main; it's mostly vacant but for a tidy reception area on one side and Agsten's minimalist working space on the other.

Agsten sits with her hands crossed on her lap as local artist Cynthia Minet unwraps a large, framed drawing of two hawks in the air. On the table is a vase of fresh flowers, a plate of chocolate chip cookies, an open laptop and pink file folders housing Agsten's notes. The vibe is arts administrator-meets-high school guidance counselor-meets empathetic best friend.

"It's a double hawk piece," Minet says, enthused and nervous at once. "I do studies for my sculptures to work out the gesture and the feeling."

Agsten says Minet's process is interesting and nods to pictures on the laptop of the artist's illuminated, recycled-plastic animal sculptures.

"I have an upcoming project at the Craft & Folk Art Museum," Minet says to the reporter, "and Allison and I were just talking about how I can use some of this sensibility in combination with what I'm planning to do."

The meeting is part of the museum's annual "Office Hours" program, now in its second year, in which the first 50 artists who signed up have scored a one-on-one chat with Agsten to review their work. A 2 1/2-week "Office Hours" show opens Wednesday evening in the museum's lobby gallery.

As their talk winds to a close, Agsten leans in, concerned.

"My one question that I like to end on, that I ask everybody, is: What do you think the most pressing question is for L.A. artists right now?"

"Oh my goodness," Minet says, without skipping a beat. "Rent. Downtown it's really a problem. People are being pushed out of their spaces."

Agsten listens, intently, nodding and occasionally scribbling notes. The conversation wraps up with the two embracing.

"Take a cookie with you," Agsten says, seeing Minet off.

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